We use the word "boilerplate" a lot at work. It's such a strange phrase that seems like it's probably traveled far from its original meaning, so I looked up what that meaning was.

It goes back to newspapers. Large advertisers and content syndicates would distribute ready-to-go printing plates to local newspapers that could easily just go onto the press and be ready to print without any modification. These plates resembled rolled steel that was used to make boilers.

Hence: boilerplate.

People who frequently use the word "boilerplate" seem to either be:
* Journalists
* Programmers
* Aerospace engineers (although I'm told their usage is slightly different from the previous two)

@srol huh, so I guess the aerospace meaning of "boilerplate" has a completely different etymology?

@srol nonfunctional craft used to test systems, originally literally made out of boilerplate

here's an Apollo boilerplate near me

@cinebox Wow, that's really fascinating. And technically they do come from the same place, just very different journeys.

@srol it's very telling that programmers adapted a word from the advertising industry

it's also a reason i so despise the word "content" because to so many it's just replaceable fluff between their precious ads

@hirojin my use of "content" there is a bit of a neologism, but a convenient one. It wouldn't have been just advertisers, it also would be comics syndicates like King Features or international reporting groups like United Press International. When I last worked for a newspaper in the 2000s, they were still using some of these.

@srol there's mention of the word "boilerplate" in the International Accounting Standards Board's discussion paper on Disclosure Initiative

Mostly about how it's not sensible for companies to just meet a checklist of disclosures, because some disclosures are not material/relevant to their particular nature of business

So for practitioners or preparers of financial reports, "boilerplate" doesn't have good connotations. Then again, many auditors disagree with these preparers

@cadey @grainloom yeah, in journalism we use it to mean something generic or not noteworthy, like a spokesperson might make a "boilerplate" statement if it seems like its not addressing anything specific and could be in response to anything really. Occasionally its also used to describe articles that get written a lot with little variation, like "That's a boilerplate weather story"

@srol @cadey @grainloom I'm trying to think of synonyms now:

Canned response
Form letter
Stump speech
Fill in the blank

Btw the legal field seems to use the term also. And "model" for legislation.

Trying to think about similar terms for when someone tells you something generic verbally in person.

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