The Hidden Meaning Behind All of Those Graduation Speech Clichés

Graduation is just around the corner.

You know what that means—you're getting closer and closer to hearing a "heartfelt" graduation speech from one of your esteemed classmates.

The graduation speech is a time-honored tradition. Unfortunately, the words that are spoken aren't always sincere—and some of them can have a different meaning than what's intended. Do you think your classmate really cares what you're going to be doing in a few months? They'll be way too busy planning out their own life.

Thankfully, we're here to tell you what your classmate is really saying. Keep scrolling for the most cliché lines from graduation speeches and what they really mean.

1. 'The dictionary defines [insert any word here] as…'

Translation: I had no idea how to start this speech, so I Googled "how to start a speech" and it gave me this prompt. It's not super relevant to the rest of what I'm going to say, but it makes for a nice little intro.

Lizzie McGuire looking shocked at her graduation in The Lizzie McGuire Movie

(Lizzie McGuire via Disney Channel)


2. 'We've been through some amazing times together.'

Translation: I don't know most of you, but I'm trying to create a feeling of comradery. Plus, I guess we did exist in the same space for the last four years. Was it amazing to attend a football game or awkwardly stand around a school dance? Not really. But that doesn't sound good in a speech, does it?


3. 'Everyone here has such incredible potential.'

Translation: I have no clue what you guys want to do with your life, but it's not technically a lie. Everyone has the potential for something, even if that something is living at home until you're 30.


(Legally Blonde via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)


4. 'The future is so bright.'

Translation: I have to say this. I can't be honest and tell you that the future is a terrifying and dark place filled with way too many responsibilities.


5. 'If I could offer just one piece of advice…'

Translation: This is my chance to sound sophisticated and wise beyond my years. It's also my chance to make sure you all have to listen to my opinion, even if it's only this one time.

Rory Gilmore Graduates

(Gilmore Girls via The CW)


6. 'Follow your passion.'

Translation: I already know what I want to do, and I'm definitely going to follow it. If you guys don't know…well, it looks like you have no direction, which probably means your future isn't as bright as I just said it was.


7. 'Don't be afraid of failure.'

Translation: I'm terrified of failure. I'm saying this more for myself because the fear of things not working out is a constant, horrifying thought in my mind. But if I say it to a large enough group of people, my own fear of failure might actually start to subside.

Rachel From Glee at Graduation

(Glee via FOX)


8. 'This is the first day of the rest of your life.'

Translation: I don't even know what this means. We've already lived 18 years, so it's quite literally inaccurate. But people are saying it all the time and it seems to come across pretty well. Plus, I needed a powerful line to end my speech.


Looking for some inside insight into what you should expect on graduation day? Click HERE for everything I wish I knew before graduation.