Archive for January 9th, 2011

January 9, 2011

Go with the flow

The boat is going with the flow, pic:

If you go with the flow you are – at least in most cases – not in the water.  To “go with the flow” means to not have a particularly strong opinion on something, to follow the majority and not to push up against prevailing norms, behaviors and attitudes.  It implies  – at least occasionally to give in to peer pressure and do something that one isn’t so keen on doing.

If you are going with the flow a lot than you might be described as “easy going” or “laid back” both terms implying that you are a person who will generally not put up a lot of resistance if everybody wants to go bowling but you’d rather play pool.

Here is an example:

You: “I wanted to go hiking on the weekend but my family rather wanted to go kayaking so I just went with the flow – and it was a lot of fun.”

The origin of that idiom is pretty obvious: its like being on a boat and is just moving along with the current instead of putting in a lot of energy and effort to go in a different direction.

January 9, 2011

Jump on the bandwagon

A wagon, but not a bandwagon, pic: © Andrew Kazmierski |

Jumping on the bandwagon generally does not involve any actual leaps in the air, nor does it involve real, good old bandwagons.

Rather the expression means that somebody joins a movement or supports something (e.g. cause) after this movement/cause has become popular and many others have joined already.  It implies a certain level of opportunism.  Trend-setters generally do not jump on bandwagons.

The origin of this is somewhat longish: in the olden days (as in the 19th century) bandwagons were used by the circus bands.  The bandwagons were decorated and fun and attracted the attention of the citizens during parades.  In a next step politicians figured out  that what works for circus performers might well work for them as well.  So they started using decorates bandwagons in their campaigns.  The jumped on the bandwagon.

An usage example:

“All the major dairy manufactures have jumped on the bandwagon and are now producing fat-free yogurts.”

The “bandwagon effect” is also used in economics to describe that people often do and believe things merely because many other people do and believe the same things.