#219: Describing Trends in English | Idioms and Slang

Oct 6, 2021 | Advanced Vocabulary, Idioms & Figurative Language

When you’re talking about the latest Netflix series or a podcast that everyone is listening to, how do you usually describe its popularity?

You might say, “It’s so popular right now.”

And you’d be right.

However, there is an exciting world of figurative language (English idioms and slang) we can use for talking about what’s cool right now… and what’s not.

By the end of this lesson you will be able to confidently express whether something is trending right now (or whether it’s now out of date) using some of the same expressions you’ll hear English speakers use in conversations, in podcasts, and on TV right now.

Describing Trends in English

Hot Like Fire

First up, English speakers seem to love phrases that are rooted in nature. Quite often, any popularity is associated with the characteristics of fire. 

Imagine you’re at a restaurant and hear a popular song. You might say to your friend, “I love this song; it’s so hot right now”. 

When we describe something as “so hot”, we mean to say that it’s trendy and popular. 

  • Learning to bake bread is so hot right now.

Funnily enough, native speakers may directly refer to someone or something as “fire”. In this case, the word functions as an adjective instead of a noun. We use the word to say that a trend is cool. 

  • After the newest film adaptation of Little Women, viewers praised the actors. And many viewers think Timothée Chalamet is fire.
  • The upcoming Macbook Pro is fire!

Have you ever wanted to express a rapid growth and trend at the same time? 

Imagine your colleague is talking about a heavily trending app. Your colleague might say, “I can’t believe how popular it’s becoming. It’s spreading like wildfire.”

When something “spreads like wildfire” we mean to say that it’s quickly becoming an unstoppable trend. It can also be used to describe sales or 

  • Basketball culture is spreading like wildfire throughout East Asia.

Cool Like Water

Sometimes, we catch trends right as they start and we want to express that something, or someone is creating quite a bit of buzz or excitement.

Just like expressions related to fire, English speakers love to liken things to water.

Think back to when you and your friend were talking about the release of a new book in your favorite series. Your friend may have said, “The author hasn’t released the next book, but it’s already making waves.”

What that means is everyone is talking about it. Similarly…

When talking about a trend’s ripple-effect (the continuing or spreading results of an event or action), we often say that the trend is making waves.

  • The updates to Google’s privacy policies are making waves in Silicon Valley.

Again, it’s something that everyone is talking about and, this particular event or action is likely triggering other events/actions.

Similarly, we use yet another water-themed phrase to express the large impact of a new trend. 

To say that a trend came out of nowhere (or was unexpected) and made a huge impression or impact, we say that it made a splash.

  • The newest and youngest player is making a splash in this year’s NBA tournaments.

A Trend Like A Trend

Of course, we could be explicit and simply say that something is trending or on-trend

  • Olivia Rodrigo’s song is trending worldwide.
  • It’s on-trend to paint your home in earthy colors.

Eye-Roll Worthy

And last on our list, when we want to express that something is outdated, or no longer trending, we generally refer to our past. 

We might specifically say that something belongs to a bygone era or time when we use the phrase “that’s so” with a time word:

  • That’s so last year.
  • That’s so early 2000s.
  • That’s so yesterday.

Imagine your friend tries to convince you that you should wear low-rise jeans. If you don’t like the idea, you might exclaim “No way! That’s so early 2000s and I’m not ready to relive those fashion choices.

Similarly, if we’ve moved on from a trend and the trend isn’t as attractive as it once was, native-speakers often refer to the news:

  • That’s old news.
  • That’s yesterday’s news.
  • That’s ancient news.
  • The 2016 election is yesterday’s news. We need to focus on current events.

However, if we really want to express our exasperation and unwillingness to talk about a passing trend, we could say: 

  • I’m so over…
  • I’m so done with…
  • I’m so over reading about feuds between members of the Royal Family.
  • I’m so done with hearing about Zoom fatigue in every podcast right now.

And with that, you have a plethora of new ways to describe current and past trends in English.

Time to practice.

Review the questions below. Try to use new expressions from today’s lesson in your responses.

  1. What recent trend has had quite the influence? 
  2. Which phrase would you use to describe a current trend? 
  3. Use a phrase to describe a trend that has faded. 
  4. Which trend makes you want to roll your eyes? Use a phrase from the lesson to describe your exhaustion.

The best place to practice and share is in the comment section below.

Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

~ Annemarie


P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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