word of mouth: Idiom Meaning and Origin

What does ‘word of mouth’ mean?

The idiom word of mouth refers to information or recommendations that are passed on through verbal communication between people, rather than through written or formal means.

Idiom Explorer

Deciphering Silent Influence

Word of mouth is an idiom that has become a common phrase in the English language. It refers to the way information, rumors, or opinions are spread among people through verbal communication. The term can trace its origins back to the early days of human civilization, where oral tradition was the primary means of transmitting knowledge and stories from one generation to the next. Though the idiomatic expression itself might not have existed then, the concept of word of mouth has shaped human communication for centuries.

Today, the idiom "word of mouth" typically signifies the act of sharing information or experiences about a particular topic or product without the use of written or formal means. It relies on personal communication and the trust placed in the opinions of others. This form of communication has retained its relevance in the digital age, despite the rise of various online platforms for sharing information.

The power of word of mouth lies in its ability to create a sense of authenticity and credibility. When someone hears about a product, service, or an event through personal recommendations from friends, family, or acquaintances, they often perceive it as more reliable and trustworthy. People tend to value the opinions and experiences of others whom they have a connection with, opening themselves up to the influence of their word of mouth. Consequently, word of mouth has a significant impact on shaping individuals' decisions, whether it be purchasing a product, choosing a travel destination, or trying out a restaurant.

Furthermore, word of mouth serves as a crucial marketing tool for businesses. Positive word of mouth can propel a product or service to success, especially in an era where online reviews and social media recommendations have significant sway over consumers' choices. Companies that recognize the potential of word of mouth often invest in strategies to generate positive conversations and buzz around their brand, aiming to harness the power of this age-old form of communication.

Word of mouth is the best recommendation.

One related idiom, "word on the street," conveys a similar concept to word of mouth. It refers to the information or rumors that circulate among people in a particular community or social group. This idiom emphasizes the informal and personal nature of the communication, as it often involves hearsay or unverified information that spreads among individuals through their conversations. The word on the street can influence public opinion and shape people's perceptions of an event, a person, or a topic.

Another related idiom, "word on the wire," reflects the influence of word of mouth in the digital era. It alludes to the spreading of information or rumors through various online channels, such as social media platforms, online forums, or messaging apps. While the word on the wire may not have the same personal connection and trust factor as traditional word of mouth, it still holds the power to shape public opinion, impact consumer behavior, and influence decision-making processes.

Additionally, the idiom "spread the word" emphasizes the action of actively sharing information or news with others. It highlights the role of individuals in spreading messages through their personal networks, whether it be through face-to-face conversations, phone calls, or online interactions. The act of spreading the word is an integral part of word of mouth, as it relies on individuals taking the initiative to share their experiences, recommendations, or opinions with others.

Lastly, the idiom "send word" indicates the act of specifically communicating information or news to someone. It suggests a deliberate intention to share a message with a particular individual or group of people. By sending word, individuals aim to inform, update, or influence others, contributing to the overall network of word of mouth communication.

Despite the effectiveness of word of mouth, it is essential to acknowledge its limitations. The idiom is inherently subjective, relying on personal experiences and individual perspectives. Consequently, the reliability and accuracy of the information shared through word of mouth can vary greatly. Misinterpretation, exaggeration, and personal biases may influence the message being transmitted, leading to a potential distortion of facts. Information shared through word of mouth can often be outdated or incomplete, as it relies on the recollections and knowledge of the individuals involved in the communication.

Even in our digital age where information can be instantly accessed and shared online, the idiom "word of mouth" continues to hold a significant place in our society. It illustrates the timeless nature of oral communication and the way humans have relied on personal recommendations to make decisions. Whether promoting a product or seeking guidance on a particular topic, the impact of word of mouth should not be underestimated. While technological advancements have revolutionized the way we communicate, the power of a personal recommendation still holds sway, reminding us of the indispensability of authentic human connection.

Example usage

Examples of how the idiom "word of mouth" can be used in a sentence:

  • My business has been growing mainly through word of mouth.
  • I heard about that new restaurant through word of mouth.
  • The success of the movie was largely due to positive word of mouth.

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