Viral, meaning a contagious spreading of word, saying, picture or song which reach a huge number of people through the Net, mainly via social networks, is now a very popular term that is finding its way into traditional dictionaries. Can you think a synonym or a word that suggest the same concept.

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    Which dictionaries? 'Spreading like wildfire' is a more traditional expression. 'Big', 'mega' ... are/were often used to describe the thing that has spread. Apr 11, 2014 at 8:23
  • Such things used to be called crazes or fads. I wonder if we'll hear a future historian talking about the time hula hooping "went viral"?
    – Neil W
    Apr 11, 2014 at 8:51
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    Viral is perfectly fine. No need to look for a synonym when you already have the best word for the situation.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 11, 2014 at 9:58
  • @ Edwin Ashworth, Viral in the definition given above can be found here for instance:oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/…
    – user66974
    Apr 11, 2014 at 9:58

7 Answers 7


To say that something has gone viral on the Internet, we could probably say that something is trending or popular. Viral is one of the best words to be used.


Something has gone viral
Something is spreading fast.
Something is gaining prominence.
Something is trending.
Something is accelerating.
Something is gaining wide acceptance.
Something is becoming prominent.
Something is becoming popular.



Consider the term infectious which long predates viral to mean

Likely to spread or influence others in a rapid manner: her enthusiasm is infectious

While it cannot simply be substituted in some constructions, such as

Enthusiasm for the song has gone viral!

alternate constructions are possible

Enthusiasm for the song has become infectious!


Consider the idiom "all the rage."

all the rage: widely popular or in style.


Her move, widely criticized by rivals, has been effective in terms of popularity, as her picture is all the rage in the network.


"contagious spread" "promiscuous sharing" "logarithmic growth"


Specifically through the 'net, you can use has become a meme. Depends on your target audience, though - the word meme is not as widely known as "viral"


Epidemic and Pandemic can be used synonymously but they are just not pretty in a business context. Nevertheless, I have heard the expression "taking on epidemic proportions".

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    epidemic and pandemic are specific to real diseases and cannot be applied to cat-videos
    – msam
    Apr 11, 2014 at 10:02
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    @msam Not necessarily: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epidemic
    – nxx
    Apr 11, 2014 at 10:18
  • Correct @nxx. Epidemic is also used frequently in the context of incident management, business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning.
    – moonstar
    Apr 11, 2014 at 10:20
  • @nxx Good point. "epidemic proportions" aside since that is relating to the proportions, I had never before heard anything like "the little girl's giggles were epidemic" (would have said contagious)
    – msam
    Apr 11, 2014 at 10:32
  • @msam Ha! I didn't even see that example. It does seem odd. But yes, the point is that "epidemic" does have broader usage than just contexts of disease or moonstar's weighty examples.
    – nxx
    Apr 11, 2014 at 10:37

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