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The following is from a New York Times article dated November 22, 2018:

As the news of Mr. Peralta’s death began to spread on Thursday morning, his colleagues took to Twitter to praise and remember him.

Is there a nicer way of saying "to take to"? Am I wrong in thinking that it is too colloquial a usage?

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    I don't think it is too colloquial to use here. I'm not sure there is anything not nice about "take to", especially as Twitter us no serious, formal communications means. There may be other opinions about this. I think your question is worth at least a comment.
    – J. Taylor
    Nov 23, 2018 at 8:13
  • @J.Taylor Thank you for your insight. I understand that Twitter is not a formal medium, but NYT is.
    – Sabuncu
    Nov 23, 2018 at 8:14
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    There is nothing wrong with "take to". In fact, even without checking, I am going to say that the usage is very, very old. What is not is Twitter. So, yes, you are wrong. "to take to the streets"; "to take to the stage"; to take to newspapers". Etc, etc.
    – Lambie
    Nov 23, 2018 at 15:34
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    take to the airwaves, too.
    – Lambie
    Nov 23, 2018 at 16:05

2 Answers 2

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As an alternative in that specific context, you can just say "on Twitter" (you'll need to fix some of the verbs too):

As the news of Mr. Peralta’s death began to spread on Thursday morning, his colleagues praised and remembered him on Twitter.

However, I would argue that it's fine to use "took to" in a newspaper. Newspapers (despite what seems like common belief) frequently use informal language. I've seen this time and time again, both in historical newspapers (which often contain the earliest examples of informal expressions) and also in today's newspapers. You can see this for yourself by searching Google News. Thus, I think that it's fine that the NYT article is using that expression.

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  • Thanks so much. By the way, I wasn't sure on whether I should use colloquial as opposed to informal, as you did, to describe the nature of the expression, so that part of your answer also has helped.
    – Sabuncu
    Nov 23, 2018 at 7:56
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    take to [a venue] is a very old expression in English. This is not informal. The protesters took to the streets to [blah blah blah].
    – Lambie
    Nov 23, 2018 at 15:36
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"take to" in this context is a phrasal verb we find in dictionaries meaning "to go to or into" (Merriam-Webster) or "to go to or withdraw to" (Collins). Oxford Dictionaries give a narrower sense: "Go to (a place) to escape danger or an enemy". The most common example of "take to" is probably "take to the hills", meaning to either literally flee for high wilderness or metaphorically run away.

Therefore, this meaning of "take to" often has a connotation of retreating or running away, which might not match the connotations of the NYT quote (maybe somebody who is grief-stricken would take refuge somewhere, so it might fit). So I think it's a slightly cute or unusual usage but not one that's grossly wrong.

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    to take the streets, a commonly used phrase is about going on the attack about something, and not about retreating.
    – Lambie
    Nov 23, 2018 at 15:35

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