I'm wondering if there is a word that describes popular, short-lived words or expressions? Think of "hanging-chad", a word most people had never heard of, then you heard it everyday for months, then it disappeared.

Maybe the word I'm looking for, if it even exists, is used to describe the phenomenon as opposed to the words themselves.

  • Could you give us some context as to when and where you would use it? Aug 25, 2016 at 19:39
  • I'm not sure I can really, I'm not sure the word even exists. I'm thinking about the times I hear words or phrases from political pundits and newscasters that accompany the latest cause célèbre, then seem to fade from public discourse. Sorry I can't really think of a better way to describe it.
    – Dylan
    Aug 25, 2016 at 19:50
  • What about an example sentence: "The ____ 'hanging-chad' has left the lexicon as quickly as it entered" Aug 25, 2016 at 19:52
  • Thank you for your question. We are looking for thoughtful, intriguing questions posed as you would ask them of an expert, including evidence that you have put effort and research into the question. Please edit to share the results of your research. Questions which lack results of research may be closed. (more) Your question should include the results of your search. It should also explain why the results were not adequate to answer your question.
    – MetaEd
    Aug 25, 2016 at 21:04
  • For reference, a hanging chad is from when, in the 2000 United States presidential election, many Florida votes used Votomatic style punched card ballots where incompletely punched holes resulted in partially punched chads: either a "hanging chad", where one or more corners were still attached, or a "fat chad" or "pregnant chad", where all corners were still ... Aug 25, 2016 at 21:19

4 Answers 4


Quite a few writers have used fad word and fad expression just in the sense you mean. A fad is off course “something that people are interested in for only a short period of time” (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary). Here are some actual, self-explanatory examples (my boldface in all quotes):

Fad words that have come and gone in my lifetime include “groovy,” “awesome,” and “phat.” [Bruce Snoap, Gone: The Disappearance of Community in the Modern American Church, 2012.]

Perfectly good standard words are regularly replaced or supplemented merely for the additional spice, to flavour speech as thyme flavours soup. Most such words are fad words that disappear again almost immediately, especially among the young.
[Stephen R. Fischer, History of Language, 2004.]

Various terms such as fad words or vogue words are applied to items that are popular for a relatively short time and are used more for their effect than for their precise meanings.
[Ian Hancock and Lorento Todd, International English Usage, 2005.]

Although the phrase 23 Skidoo! (sometimes spelled 23 Skkidoo!) is now generally associated with the Roaring Twenties, it had in fact lost its popularity by the mid 1910s. During its heyday between 1900 and 1910, 23 Skidoo! was an expression to behold. Wentworth and Flexner credit it as having been “perhaps the first national fad expression and one of the most popular fad expressions to appear in the United States.”
[Tom Dalzell, Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang, 2012]

  • That's what first came to mind when I read the question. +1
    – Centaurus
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:15
  • @Centaurus You know what they say about great minds...
    – Jacinto
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:17

Yes, there is such a word, it's a vogue word

(linguistics) A neologism that gains sudden popularity but is forgotten after a relatively short time, such as wardrobe malfunction.

  • I don't think wardrobe malfunction has been forgotten. However, that is Wiktionary not you, your answer is a decent one Aug 25, 2016 at 20:02
  • Perfect. Do you happen to know if Vogue Words apply to words that aren't necessarily neologisms? But for some reason or another behave the same way in the sense that they gain sudden popularity but are forgotten after a relatively short time?
    – Dylan
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:02
  • @Dylan you expressly asked for short-lived words. If they were around beforehand, they wouldn't be short-lived, would they?
    – Helmar
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:05
  • @BladorthinTheGrey well not my example. And I can't come up with one, because the word is by definition forgotten ;)
    – Helmar
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:06
  • @Helmar Not necessarily, hanging chad or just chad more specifically is an old word, its usage merely spiked massively in the wake of the 2000 vote rigging fiasco Aug 25, 2016 at 20:07

Not exactly a set-phrase or a slang-word, "a passing craze" seems to fit.

  • "a short-lived popular fashion; a fad."


  • "The hula-hoop was just a passing craze."

  • "I think the Pokémon GO is just a passing craze.

In addition, and more specific, "a fashionable phrase", "modish word".


Provisional would do.

Provisional meaning -something that is used for the present possibly to be changed in the future.

Example: The usage of the word 'hanging chad' turned out to be provisional.

I found the meaning in my OXFORD dictionary and I went through several examples to come to this conclusion.

  • Do you has a source that you can offer to improve your answer? Aug 25, 2016 at 20:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.