Is there a saying or word for indicating the overuse of something you just newly learned? Say you were happy with a hammer and a nail and then somebody taught you the virtues of a screw and screwdriver. From then on, every problem incorrectly looks like it can be solved only with the screwdriver.


11 Answers 11


You might consider overzealous adopter.

To adopt is to take up and practice or use. An adopter is one who adopts.

To be zealous is to have an enthusiastic commitment to. Add "over" and the sense is that the commitment is extreme or beyond what is called for.

  • 3
    Reminds me of zealous new-converts.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 17:16
  • 2
    In that sense, what about just 'overenthusiastic adopter'?
    – user107729
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 7:10
  • 1
    That is also a very good expression. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 8:15

To paraphrase Maslow's Law...

Got a hammer, now everything looks like a nail!

The "standard" version is usually given as If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but in practice people often use it in contexts where said hammer has only recently been acquired.


You could say someone who does this is like a kid with a new toy. It often just means someone is particularly pleased, but sometimes includes the connotation of overuse.

  • 6
    Yes - or, to paraphrase Maslow, When you've just learned how to use a hammer, everything looks like a nail Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 17:15
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers: You should post this comment as an answer--the whole law of the instrument concept. Nice find. Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 17:17
  • On reflection, I think I probably should. It doesn't inherently imply using a recently-acquired method/tool, but in practice it would often be used in such contexts. Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 17:20
  • @Cerb: Wow! 58 upvotes and counting! Definitely worth posting as an answer. (We should ask the mods to transfer you half-a-dozen of those upvotes as a 10% "agent's fee"! :) Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 15:56
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    @FumbleFingers: My normal rate is 20% but I'll give you a discount this time since I've also benefitted from the extra traffic to this question. Just make sure they're transferred to me and not "Cerb." :) Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 17:04

Not necessarily relating to a new skill, but "flavour of the month" might be in the ball park if used in the right way:

He only learned how to use the screwdriver yesterday, but now its the flavour of the month.

  • nice one!, same thing as acronym of the day.
    – dr jerry
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 20:13
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    Only if the new skill was trendy. If I learned how to use a pummice stone in painting and decorating, it would hardly be classed as trendy if I then overused it. Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 20:15
  • @FacebookAnswers: In a case like that, you could simply use "fad of the day" instead.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 22:39

A slightly oblique suggestion: the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. It's also known as the recency syndrome, and it describes the situation where you suddenly begin to notice X everywhere moments/days after you first learn about X. To quote people smarter than me: "the belief that things you started noticing recently are actually recent".

The most common example of this is how you seem to suddenly hear a specific song everywhere after someone introduces it to you or calls your attention to it. The song had probably been playing just as frequently on the radio / in stores both before and after you were introduced to the song, but now that your attention has been called to it, your brain picks up new instances of the song being played much more readily than it did before. It's a case of selective attention.

So, to tie this back to your question: you might encounter X events per day that call for the need of a hammer, but before someone gave you one as a present you just glossed over those events, and after someone gave you a hammer you start consciously noticing places you can use it, so that it seems like there's suddenly so much more opportunity to use your shiny new toy.


I like to use the general phrase “[noun] evangelist” because I tend to believe anyone who gets truly hyped about something new falls into that unique—and highly annoying—type of human behavior where they become a pseudo-religious zealot about the topic.

I understand that guy’s POV on web standards, but he is such an HTML5 evangelist he makes me want to start using Adobe PageMill 1.0 again.

Another method of describing such behavior I use is:

He is so zealous about the topic he sucks any shred of joy I might might have gotten out of the topic now or ever again.

  • How about "Neophyte Evangelist?" Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 0:01

How about more scientific like

recency bias


Dogmatic (adjective)

  1. a. (of a statement, opinion, etc.) forcibly asserted as if authoritative and unchallengeable

    b. (of a person) prone to making such statements

  2. (Philosophy) of, relating to, or constituting dogma

  3. based on assumption rather than empirical observation

Charlie has recently acquired the dogmatic belief that every problem can be solved with a screwdriver.

  • Please add the dictionary definition of dogmatic to your answer. Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 16:16

Maid sweeps good with new broom!


[There's] No zealot like a convert.

I cannot find a good reference, I first heard it on an episode of The West Wing. While it seems that people use it (from google hits) I can't seem to find a decent discussion of the phrase. Still its meaning is rather clear.

  • that certainly holds true for smokers.
    – dr jerry
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 15:44

Another one I have used personally:

He's like a born-again Christian the way he goes on about that new pummice stone of his.

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