I'm looking for a word that describes an idea that captures people's attention and quickly eclipses discussions of other ideas related to a particular issue. Incendiary is almost the word, but without the suggestion of inflammatory content.

Thank you!

  • Perhaps 'compelling' would suit?
    – JEL
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 3:27

6 Answers 6



: an emotional and usually controversial issue or concern that triggers immediate intense reaction

"Hot Button." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

burning issue or question

3: of fundamental importance : urgent < one of the burning issues of our time>

"Burning." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.


Here are a few ideas that come to mind


Full Definition of flash point 1 : the lowest temperature at which vapors above a volatile combustible substance ignite in air when exposed to flame 2 : a point at which someone or something bursts suddenly into action or being (Merriam+Webster)





Sockdolager can be used when a statement or action settles, finalizes or concludes anything.




in internet slang flame is used for a heated discussion, so I tend to use it for any strong opinionated discussion even outside the virtual realm


Seminal is possible, but you're looking for something more immediate. You could use a seminal paper, but maybe this isn't quite right, either.

Usurp could work too, but it has a negative connotation. Similarly for expropriate.

Commandeer: "Frank's idea commandeered the discussion".

Momentous: "Gödel's momentous theorem quickly eclipsed Russel's work".


Perhaps a phrase rather than single word okay?

take on a life of its own

to no longer be controlled by anyone 

Once an earthquake starts, it takes on a life of its own.

Someone imagined it, and the idea took on a life of its own.

Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms

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