Here is a Boston Globe article about the Donald Trump scandal of the day: buying a Tim Tebow helmet with funds from his charitable foundation, apparently in violation of IRS rules. But why isn’t it on display in photos of Trump’s sports memorabilia?
One possible reason: the Tebow gear has lost some of its cache. In hindsight, Trump’s famous eye for a good deal seems to have deserted him on the night of the auction: as it turned out, he was buying Tebow gear close to its peak price.
What the heck is the word “cache” doing there? Obviously they meant “cachet” — presumably they thought “cache” was like “cliché”, with an acute accent over the final “e”.
Turns out this isn’t random: Here is Fox Business wondering if the American Express Black Card is losing its cache. They liked the word so much it appeared in the article’s title. This Chicago real estate publication wonders if Park Tower has lost its cache. It’s interesting, though, that the Globe article is reprinted from the Washington Post, which uses the correct word (online, anyway).
This (mis)usage isn’t anywhere near as common as the similar use of cliché as an adjective, on the model of passé. That’s so cliché! Here’s a grammarian who is OK with this:
By now, I think, “so cliche” seems normal to a lot of younger speakers and writers. And I have a soft spot for it myself, as I confessed in that 2003 column, because it’s such a natural choice:
Though cliche came into English as a noun, it retains its French form — and that form is a past participle, perfectly happy to be used as an adjective. English is full of such French words, some used as nouns (divorcee, souffle, negligee), others as adjectives (passe, flambe).
For me, that usage is like fingernails on a chalkboard.