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formulaic; showing no original thought or creativity
Word Origin
C20: from children's painting books in which the colours to be used are identified by numbers on the design to be painted
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Examples from the Web for paint-by-numbers
Contemporary Examples
  • Many Republican wags, such as David Frum and Erick Erickson, are already onto the Boehner paint-by-numbers game of the “Pledge.”

Slang definitions & phrases for paint-by-numbers



Simple; obvious: Clark's second Regan Reilly mystery has a paint-by-numbers plot with characters who collide in wildly improbable ways

[1970+; fr the kits with which one paints a picture by coloring numbered patches]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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