what is the meaning of 老掉牙的設定?

I want to say it means something like "overused archetype", but I'm not sure if that is correct. (This is in the context of describing common kinds of characters). Thank you.

  • “overused archetype” 我感觉可以。只不过“设定”不仅只人物特征,有时候也指对故事框架设定。比如女主从小就很苦,好不容易跟青梅竹马的男朋友要在一起了,结果男朋友被车撞死了,又来个高富帅追求女主……这种故事框架也叫“设定”。
    – Zhang
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 10:00

2 Answers 2


You start to lose your teeth only at a very old age

老掉牙 is short for 老到掉牙 (so old, your teeth fall off). It means "very old" or "archaic" and 老掉牙的設定 is fine for the description of "overused archetype"


设定 here probably refers to the setting of a story for a fiction/movie/game.

老掉牙 is not simply old (while old some time is a good thing). 老掉牙 means outdated, which is a sarcasm. For example:

outdated AF radio player

老掉牙的设定 is used to describe some art works that are so old fashioned that do not have any fresh feelings. For examples

It is so outdated that this 2018 anime is still using the setting of EVA(1995) .

In your case, yes it can be used to describe "overused archetype".

There is a more precise translation called 烂大街. While 老掉牙 focuses on the time aspect, 烂大街 focuses on the number of usage. It means so common that it can be found almost everywhere. For example:

Superhero vs Nazis is already an overused setting.

Note that both 老掉牙 and 烂大街 are not very polite. They are some kind of criticism.

You might also want to use “过于刻板的设定”in formal writings, which means stereotype settings. Or simply "被滥用的设定"。

Also, you might specify it to “人物设定” or “世界观设定”.

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