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Fifteen Common English Idioms Related To Innovation And Technology

Fifteen common English idioms related to innovation and technology

Idioms can be tricky for English learners. With some idioms, the relationship between the literal meaning of the words and the figurative meaning of the phrase isn’t obvious. A bit like phrasal verbs, idioms are something that you just have to learn in order to use. But, once you’ve learned a few idioms, they are a lot of fun! Idioms add nuance, humor, and emotional impact to our conversations. By learning common English idioms, you can convey complex ideas quickly and easily, relying on the figurative meaning associated with the phrase. 

Idiomatic expressions can enhance your communication, making conversations more engaging and enjoyable for both speakers and listeners. Idioms are not only linguistic tools – they also signify your cultural knowledge, and help to strengthen social bonds and foster a sense of belonging.

The intersection of language and technology

Technology has not only revolutionized our lives but also transformed the way we communicate. With the advent of social media, smartphones, and the internet, our language has adapted to accommodate these new forms of interaction. Think about all the new words and concepts that have evolved as a direct result of new technology, eg: selfie, tweet, screentime – to name but a few! 

It’s no surprise that, alongside new vocabulary, there are also lots of common English idioms associated with technology and innovation. Let’s take a look! 

Common English idioms related to technology or innovation

By learning these idioms and incorporating them into your speech, you’ll be able to talk with increased fluency and confidence when discussing the latest advances in technology. These idioms are useful in everyday conversation with friends or family, but they are also increasingly used in the workplace, so if you are working on your business English, these expressions will come in useful! 

1. Cutting-edge

This idiom has nothing to do with the act of cutting! Instead, it’s an adjective which is used to describe the latest or most advanced technology or innovation.

How to use it: “Their company is known for developing cutting-edge software solutions.”

2. Ahead of the curve

This expression is used to describe a product, person or business that is more advanced or innovative than others in the same field.

How to use it: “The research team’s groundbreaking discoveries kept the company ahead of the curve.”

3. Break new ground

This idiom is used when somebody invents or introduces something completely new and innovative.

How to use it: “The company’s revolutionary product broke new ground in the smartphone market.”

4. Pushing the envelope

This curious idiom is used when talking about a product or process that is testing the limits of what is possible or acceptable in technology or innovation. 

How to use it: “The designer pushed the envelope with a bold and unconventional user interface.”

5. Game-changer 

This expression refers to a revolutionary innovation that significantly alters the status quo in an industry or field. The implication is that nothing will be the same again. 

How to use it: “The introduction of cloud computing was a game-changer for businesses worldwide.”

6. Tech-savvy 

This adjective is used to describe people who are knowledgeable and skilled in using technology effectively.

How to use it: “The tech-savvy team quickly adapted to the new software tools.”

7. Plug and play

This expression is used to describe technology that is easy to install and use without requiring much configuration or setting up. 

How to use it: “The new device is plug and play, making it ideal for non-technical users.”

8. Blue-sky thinking

This phrase is used to describe a creative process of coming up with ideas. Basically, blue-sky thinking refers to innovative and unconventional ideas without limitations.

How to use it: “During brainstorming sessions, they engage in blue-sky thinking to explore creative solutions.”

9. Digital native

A digital native is someone who has grown up using digital technology and is familiar with its various aspects. It is often used in a generational sense – for example, millennials are often identified as the first generation who grew up surrounded by digital devices and social media. 

How to use it: “Being a digital native, she finds it easy to adapt to new gadgets and software.”

10. Digital footprint

In the same way that “carbon footprint” refers to your environmental impact, digital footprint refers to the trail of data and information left behind by your online activities.

How to use it: “It’s essential to be mindful of your digital footprint to protect your privacy online.”

11. In the pipeline

This phrase describes a project or innovation that is currently developing or planned for the future.

How to use it: “There are some exciting features in the pipeline for the next software update.”

12. Digital detox

We associate this idiom with over-use of digital devices and social media. When someone is on a digital detox, it means that they are taking a break from their smartphone or tablet to reduce stress and improve well-being.

How to use it: “After a hectic workweek, she decided to go on a digital detox by spending a weekend outdoors.”

13. Tech unicorn

We use this expression to talk about a startup company valued at over one billion dollars, typically in the technology sector. Some famous examples are Google, Canva, Bytedance (who own TikTok) and Uber. 

How to use it: “The tech unicorn’s rapid growth attracted attention from investors worldwide.”

14. Disruptive technology

This phrase describes innovations that significantly change or revolutionize existing industries or markets. 

How to use it: “Electric vehicles are a disruptive technology, challenging traditional automobile manufacturers.”

15. Beta phase

This expression is used to talk about the testing period of a technology or product, where it is released to a select group of users so that the makers can listen to feedback and improve the product before the official release.

How to use it: “The software is currently in the beta phase, and developers are gathering user feedback.”

How tech idioms reflect social changes

The society in which we use the idiom reflects the language. Lots of these expressions have only come into being in the last ten years or less. These idioms, related to technology, show us snapshots of the enormous social changes brought about by technological advances. They offer glimpses into our collective fascination with technology. 

Learn more about common English idioms related to business, and find out which new words entered our vocabulary in 2023!

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