Last modified on September 26, 2018, at 20:51

Thought-terminating cliché

A thought-terminating cliché is a short, definitive-sounding expression thrown into a debate to end all discussion or thought about the topic of that debate.[1] It is used in totalitarian societies to quell dissent[2] and more generally to mask the fact that the person using it cannot mount an effective argument or effectively address the counter-argument.

A common example of a thought-terminating cliché used by liberals is "Racist!"[3]

A thought-terminating cliché is similar to a fallacy of relevance in that they are both used to distract the listener from considering the relevant issue. However, while fallacies of relevance replace the relevant issue with an irrelevant issue, thought-terminating clichés shut down thought altogether.


  1. Thought-Terminating Cliches
  2. Thought reform and the psychology of totalism
  3. ‘Racist!’ He cried…: A Thought-Terminating Cliché in Decline