What’s Hot and What’s Not: The New and the Old

How can we talk about what’s old and what’s new in English?

Let’s start with describing what’s old.   

Thobe or thawb traditional Arab dress

Traditional Arab dress, the thobe (or thawb)

Kimono traditional old dress of Japan

Traditional Japanese dress, the kimono


We can use the adjective traditional.  This means something that has been done in the same way for a long time.  There are traditional business practices (top-down), traditional families (father’s the boss), and traditional clothing (see above).

We can also use the adjectives old-school, conventional, and conservative to talk about ideas or practices that have been around for a long time.  An old-school teacher might lecture a lot rather than group students together for peer-led learning.  A conventional classroom would organize all the desks in rows facing the teacher at the front of the room.  A conservative curriculum would probably not use movies or YouTube videos as they might contain sex scenes or bad words.
We can also use the adjective tried and true if we want to put a positive spin on whatever the old method is.  For example, repetition is a tried and true way of memorizing vocabulary words.  The more you say and use a new word, the more likely it is that you will remember it.  People have been using this method successfully for ages!

How can we describe ideas and things that are new?
New virtual reality gear in development
If we’re talking about technology, we usually use the adjectives innovative or cutting edge.  For example, the virtual reality gear shown here is still being developed.  Every year, our video game play experience becomes more and more realistic due to these innovative developers and their cutting edge equipment.
If we’re talking about news, data, or information, we tend to use adjectives like current or up to date.  On line web sources tend to have the most up to date news because current material can be posted instantaneously.  Print sources (newspapers and magazines) require time for the printing and distribution process.

If we’re talking about politics, we tend to use words like progressive, radical, or revolutionary.  Progressive parties seek change.  Radical or revolutionary parties seek change by more extreme means.
When we speak of fashion, we often use the word trendy to describe what’s popular right now.  I can’t even post a picture of it because by the time you saw it, this style would be old-fashioned or passé (or as current slang would say, so yesterday).
A final all-purpose idiom for thinking in a fresh way is thinking outside the box.  The box means all that is traditional.  When we think outside the box, we are being innovative.
I hope this helps you understand how you might discuss what’s hot and what’s not.

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