10 communication idioms about staying up-to-date with what’s going on, from viral trends to news hot off the press

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  • These English idioms are perfect for discussing news, gossip or crucial information
  • Drop your friends a line if you’re feeling out of touch, but be careful not to believe everything you hear through the grapevine
Yanni Chow |
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How do you prefer to stay in the loop: through the internet, print media or word of mouth? Illustration: Shutterstock

From letters and newspapers to phones and social media, we have so many ways to connect with others and discuss news from around the world.

In the past, information used to spread slowly when people could only hear it through the grapevine. After the printing press was invented, more people could learn about important news that was hot off the press. Nowadays, even the most insignificant details can spread like wildfire on social media.

Here’s your chance to learn some useful English idioms – and a phrase from Cantonese slang – about communication. Even if some of them come from a time before the internet, they are still useful to describe how we stay up-to-date with what’s going on.

Can you hear me now? Cantonese slang about communication

1. Drop (someone) a line

Meaning: to correspond; to write a short letter, note or message

Example: Long time no see! Drop me a line soon so we can catch up.

2. Go viral

Meaning: to become very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the internet

Example: This video of a dog going to the park by itself has gone viral – at least five people have already sent it to me.

3. Hear through the grapevine

Meaning: to hear news from someone who heard it from someone else

Example: I heard through the grapevine that Jason is going to win an award from the school – is that true?

You can’t trust everything you hear through the grapevine. Illustration: Shutterstock

4. Hot off the press

Meaning: newly printed; sensational and exciting

Example: I’ve got it hot off the press – Super Junior is coming to Hong Kong!

5. Keep (someone) posted

Meaning: to supply someone with up-to-date information

Example: Keep me posted about our grandfather’s situation – I want to know as soon as his condition changes.

6. On trend

Meaning: in style; in fashion

Example: The selection at this store is always on trend, so you’ll be sure to find something to wear to your dinner.

23 time idioms to make your writing more interesting

7. Out of touch

Meaning: no longer in contact or communication; in a state of not knowing what is happening, how certain people feel, etc.

Example: I haven’t been spending time with my friends for the past few months because I’ve been so focused on my music exam, and now, I feel quite out of touch.

8. Spread like wildfire

Meaning: to disseminate or circulate very quickly

Example: The news of the prime minister’s death spread like wildfire.

9. Touch base

Meaning: to communicate, make contact, or reconnect, especially quickly or briefly

Example: Over the busy holidays, I sent messages to my friends to touch base and see how they were doing.

10. Word of mouth

Meaning: generated from or reliant on oral publicity

Example: We learned about this small, family-owned restaurant by word of mouth – you wouldn’t even be able to find its location on Google Maps.

Nowadays, most people use social media to touch base with their friends. Illustration: Shutterstock

Here’s a phrase in Cantonese slang ...

起底 hei2 dai2 (hey-daai): “dig bottom”

Meaning: to publish someone else’s private personal information or reveal an online poster’s identity without the consent of that individual

In English: doxxing

Example: When his professor gave him a failing grade on his exam, Joshua hey-daai and shared the professor’s personal information online as revenge, but his school connected the dots and suspended him.

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