«A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals.»

The term stereotype derives from the Greek words στερεός (stereos), "firm, solid" and τύπος (typos), "impression," hence "solid impression".

It was invented by Firmin Didot in the world of printing; it was originally a duplicate impression of an original typographical element, used for printing instead of the original. American journalist Walter Lippmann coined the metaphor, calling a stereotype a "picture in our heads" saying, "Whether right or wrong (...) imagination is shaped by the pictures seen (...) originally printers' words, and in their literal printers' meanings were synonymous. Specifically, cliché was a French word for the printing surface for a stereotype. The first reference to "stereotype," in its modern, English use was in 1850, in the noun, meaning "image perpetuated without change."

Stereotypes are common in various cultural media, where they take the form of dramatic stock characters. These characters are found in the works of playwright Bertolt Brecht, Dario Fo, and Jacques Lecoq, who characterize their actors as stereotypes for theatrical effect. In commedia dell'arte this is similarly common. The instantly recognizable nature of stereotypes mean that they are effective in advertising and situation comedy. These stereotypes change, and in modern times only a few of the stereotyped characters shown in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress would be recognizable.


Illustrations: Pepitagraphics, Jacqueline García
Text: http:// en.wikipedia.org

Special thanks to Roli Bricchi