Are there other ways of saying that somebody has achieved popularity or fame within a short period of time, therefore becoming an "overnight sensation"?

The suggested alternatives should capture the aspects that the person's appearance in public was very sudden, i.e. the person came seemingly out of nowhere. That the degree of fame is (at least temporarily) very high, but also that this kind of fame is usually rather short-lived.

  • 2
    You might call them a shooting star.
    – TonyK
    Oct 2, 2016 at 13:23
  • I think the term "shooting star" comes very close but it might be lacking the connotation that implies that the popularity is short-lived.
    – zepp133
    Oct 2, 2016 at 13:35
  • 2
    Since "shooting star" is the name given to meteor trails that flash across the night skies and disappear in a short time, they certainly do have the connotation of short-lived. Oct 2, 2016 at 18:23
  • The idiomatic phrase "burst into stardom" is very similar in sense to "overnight sensation" and has much less the sense of brief triumph than "shooting star." That is, a person may burst into stardom quite unexpectedly and then fade quickly from view—or remain a major figure for many years.
    – Sven Yargs
    Oct 3, 2016 at 0:55

5 Answers 5


a fad or a craze refer to fashion, games, dances, toys, etc. that generate short-lived popular enthusiasm, but they don't usually refer to people.

I therefore suggest "an ephemeral bang" or " an ephemeral hit".

  • ephemeral - "Lasting for a markedly brief time"

  • hit - "A successful or popular venture"

  • bang - "a sudden striking effect"


I'd suggest that the person is having his or her fifteen minutes of fame.

fifteen minutes of fame PHRASE: A brief period of fame that a person enjoys before fading back into obscurity. -ODO

It's credited to Andy Warhol, who included the words "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" in the program for a 1968 exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.


Nine Days' Wonder or, in the case of a pop or rock act, One Hit Wonder certainly convey the idea of sudden, short-lived fame.

The only weakness is that neither can be applied to someone who acquires celebrity instantly but goes on to more permanent fame.


They are a here today, gone tomorrow star, whose fame lasts whilst are flavour of the moment.

here today, gone tomorrow saying said about something that lasts only a short time:
A lot of new internet companies are here today, gone tomorrow.


flavour of the moment Something that is prominent in the public eye for a short time then fades out of interest. Originally a term of approval for something that was up to the minute and desirable. It has been used ironically from the late 20th century to pass disdainful comment on things which pass out of fashion quickly; for example, the "one hit wonders" of the music business.
[...] The phrase dates back to 1930s USA and originated in the advertising slogans of ice-cream companies there.


You may consider meteoric.

To say X became an overnight sensation, we may also use:

X experienced a meteoric rise to fame.


meteoric adjective

Simple Definition: marked by very quick success

Full Definition: 1 b : resembling a meteor in speed or in sudden and temporary brilliance

a meteoric rise to fame

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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