gain steam/gain momentum

Discussion in 'English Only' started by danielxu85, Feb 26, 2007.

  1. danielxu85 Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    I guess "gain steam" means "gain momentum", but I am not sure they actually mean the same thing. What are their differences? In what circumstances are they being used respectively?

    As the blogging movement gains steam, perhaps the quality of discourse will be raised.
  2. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    I'd say that "gain steam" means the same as "gain momentum" or "increase in force". Gain steam is a figurative expression that gives the idea of a steam engine.

    Wait for the natives, though.
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I expect these are both intended to mean the same thing.

    Gain momentum sounds OK.

    Gain steam sounds odd.
    I would have liked to say that get up steam was more common, but apparently it isn't.
    69,600 for "gain steam.
    14,800 for "get up steam.
    Maybe there is an AE/BE difference?
    1,410 for "gain steam
    120 for "get up steam

    Oh bother, that's no good either :)
    Change of theory; surely it's gets up, not get up?
    96,300 for "gains steam
    14,800 for "gets up steam
    Back to the AE/BE notion ...
    6,600 for "gains steam
    13,500 for "getsupsteam :D

    There you are now, BE would prefer gets up steam to gains steam.
  4. danielxu85 Senior Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    Thanks, panj! Next time I would stick to the common phrase "gain momentum", instead of using "gain steam".

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