Originally a stereotype was an impression taken from a form of movable lead type and used for printing instead of the original type. This was generalized into a metaphor for repeating a set of ideas identically with no changes (as would have been possible in a form of movable type).
In modern usage, the metaphorical meaning predominates. The term is generally used to describe an oversimplified mental picture of some group of people who are sharing a certain characteristic (or stereotypical) qualities. The term is thus often used in a negative sense, with stereotypes being seen by many as illogical yet deeply held-beliefs that can only be changed through education.
Common stereotypes of the past included a variety of allegations about various racial groups (see: racial stereotype and racial profiling) and predictions of behavior based on social status and wealth (See social stereotype).
In literature and art, stereotypes are clichéd or predictable characters or situations. For example, the stereotypical devil is a red, impish character with horns and a pitchfork.
Common stereotypical characters
- The lazy Mexican
- The lazy or uneducated African-American from the city
- The short-tempered, chunkified wrestler
- The "hard-boiled" or tough private eye
- The aging absent-minded professor, a schlemiel (sometimes speaking incoherently)
- The wealthy miser living a poor life to save money.
- The middle-aged father with a paunch who remembers his glory days in high school
- The ditzy busty blonde woman ("brain-dead blonde")
- The dowdy librarian (who becomes instantly attractive when she takes her glasses off)
- The degenerate aristocrat with top hat, tuxedo, and monocle
- The snobbish butler (speaking with a British English or other European accent)
- The nerdy scientist (with black wiry-framed glasses, black bowtie, white coat, speaking in technobabble)
- Similar: The short genius schoolkid, who wears glasses and uniform ("geek" or "dork")
- The peg-legged pirate with an eye patch and parrot who's obsessed with finding buried treasure
- The overweight, doughnut-eating cop who believes skateboarding is a crime
- The brightly colored court jester
- The villain with black clothes, waxed moustache and generalized Central or Eastern European accent
- The jolly Middle Eastern or South Asian convenience store or cornershop owner with his collection of trinkets
- The picky chef with his toque and piquant French accent.
- The overdelivering game show host with his giant smile
- The confrontational Italian American gangster in his pinstripe suit from Armani or Versace, who hides his gun in a violin case
- The tobacco-spitting baseball player
- The effeminate homosexual male
- The butch lesbian
- The old lady who sits on the porch, reminiscing and knitting.
- The grouchy old man who yells at kids on his lawn
- The violent, savage (American) Indian warrior or scalper.
- The drunken (American) Indian.
- The drunken Irishman.
- The hyperactive, hickish Australian.
- The wise and otherworldly African-American who helps a white character in crisis.
- The greedy, stingy Jew.
- The uneducated hick (American) Southerner, a white trash redneck
- The Australian in the blue singlet, denim shorts, sandals and corked hat, drinking a can of Fosters
- The ill-tempered father who antagonizes his daughter's boyfriend
- The disdainful mother-in-law wondering how her child ended marrying such a failure.
- The Frenchman with stiped shirt, beret and onions - see Onion Johnnie
- The lone, nameless gunslinger
- The Fat German wearing a bow tie, a green pointy hat with a feather on top, with a jar of beer in one hand and a frankfurter in the other, singing yoddles
- The smart, hardworking, quiet Asian American - see Model minority
- The employer who fires an employee for a petty reason - see The Jetsons
- The psychological and social role of stereotypes (http://samvak.tripod.com/stereotype.html)
- Suite 101: Shark Tale stereotypes troubling: CNYU Professor (http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/17172/111173)
In computing, a stereotype is a concept in the Unified Modeling Language, where it is used to encapsulate behaviors. Thus, a stereotype is used as a vehicle for communicating software requirements and designs, and lacks the negative connotation present in general usage.