Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

What you say? Damn Interesting describes it as;

Baader-Meinhof is the phenomenon where one happens upon some obscure piece of information– often an unfamiliar word or name– and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly. Anytime the phrase “That’s so weird, I just heard about that the other day” would be appropriate, the utterer is hip-deep in Baader-Meinhof.

I just happened to see the term used yesterday, and then today I saw it as one of the Six Random Links on David Gagne’s blog.


  1. You could call it the frothing foam of proto-buzz. People try out new words and expressions to see how they fit in to the personal lexicon, and near associates quickly run into the same words and expressions.

    There must be millions of key influencers in our society who start off these little ongoing lexical experiments. It’s just part of the natural evolution of languages. Eventually you end up with gullies and cul-de-sacs of idomatic expressions where small groups of people favor certain expressions over others. In turn, those small groups may become influencers for larger groups and eventually you’ll see a few small collections of idiom invade regional, tribal, or cultural dialects.

  2. DG

    I agree. There was an interesting study a few years ago on ‘kitty-corner’ versus ‘catty-corner’ and other expressions, some of them split almost North/South in the U.S., others created geographic pockets across the U.S. and the world.

  3. dvg

    Amazing. I was just thinking about this phenomenon today.




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