Chris Higgins

In researching (ahem, yeah, I call my surfing research) an entry on Image Macros, I came across a category of phrases that use the format: "I'm in Your X, Y'ing Your Z." It turns out that such formatted phrases have a name, snowclones, and a rich history.

Here's how Wikipedia describes snowclones:

A snowclone or catch structure is a type of formula-based cliché which uses an old idiom in a new context. It was originally defined as "a multi-use, customizable, instantly recognizable, time-worn, quoted or misquoted phrase or sentence that can be used in an entirely open array of different jokey variants by lazy journalists and writers." [...] A common example of a snowclone is "X is the new Y", a generic form of the original expression "pink is the new black". In order to apply the snowclone, X and Y should be replaced with new words or phrases. For instance, this snowclone might appear as "Random Is the new order", a marketing phrase for the iPod shuffle.

Check out Wikipedia's impressive list of snowclones (update: this link seems to work, but may be temporary) organized by date of origin. Some classics:

16th century: Et tu, X?

19th century: The only good X is a dead X.

1910s: The X to end all Xs.

1920s: A W in every X and a Y in every Z.

What's your favorite snowclone? I think mine has to be X is the new Y. Or perhaps the "we don't need no badgers" bit pictured above, popularized (for me) by UHF. (And yes, both of these are explained in the list.)