What is the word for something that is like a cliche but isn't really old yet? Some phrase, claim, or belief that is trending but is so new that you couldn't really call it cliche.

For example, often people hear things touted on the news as fact and begin repeating those things, which then become a new and commonly held belief. For example, if I were to say that the Corona virus is like the flu, everybody would quickly correct me and say that it is NOT like the flu. This claim which is new becomes widely believed, loudly defended, and often repeated. Everyone says it because everyone says it. It becomes stuck in the collective mind of the public and everyone repeats it.

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    A meme? Can you give an example of what you’re talking about?
    – Laurel
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 21:35
  • @Laurel Meme sounds right. Commented May 14, 2020 at 22:09
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    "Myth" might fit the bill, but in this context it would imply that the widely held belief is inaccurate. A new phrase or newly held belief, if factual, would not be a myth. Commented May 14, 2020 at 23:19
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    Note that there is nothing wrong with saying "the Corona virus is like the flu", so long as you are explaining that it is, in many ways, "flu-like". At issue is whether you stop there, or go on to explain, in more details, how it's different.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 1:29
  • Though there's already an accepted answer, I'm wondering about trope here. Commented May 27, 2020 at 6:26

2 Answers 2


I think meme, as suggested by @Laurel, is the best possible answer, but I'll offer up virus, as in going viral. From Cambridge:

viral: used to describe something that quickly becomes very popular or well known by being published on the internet or sent from person to person by email, phone, etc.:

An alternative to virus is nouveaux virus, where, as per M-W, nouveaux means newly arrived or developed. That would add to virus the OP's desired sense of newness.

  • Yeah, I'll have to accept this. Something doesn't sound quite perfect to me though. Like there's another word that I can't put my finger on. But maybe this is it. Thanks!
    – Benthink
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 23:08
  • @Benthink I don't know if you can change your acceptance, but I assume you can. You might want to wait for more answers to come in. As I said, I think meme is the best possible answer, but to my mind, Laurel would have to submit it based on her mention of it in her comment. Commented May 14, 2020 at 23:13

Meme fits, if you go by the textbook Wikipedia definition:

A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads by means of imitation from person to person within a culture and often carries symbolic meaning representing a particular phenomenon or theme.

See also MW.

I think I’ve heard “that’s a meme” used to refer to ideas in informal contexts. It’s hard to tell exactly, since there probably is an image macro out there for any popular piece of (mis)information.

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