What is meant by "state-of-the art"?

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Definite Integral

Mandarin Chinese
Hi,everyone! I have looked up several dictionaries and they said the word "state-of-the-art" is an adjective and means something like "most sophisticated". Why ??:confused: I just don't get it. Could anyone help explain this word to me? Thanks!:)
  • MilkyBarKid

    Senior Member
    British English
    By 'sophisticated', they mean the most recent stage in the development of a product, incorporating the newest ideas and the most up-to-date features. So, as an adjective, it means 'incorporating the newest ideas and the most up-to-date features'.

    'state' is best interpreted as where the ongoing development of this equipment is up to at this point in time.'

    art' here means the application of human creative skill and imagination brought to bear on some piece of equipment, appliance, or instrument.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    ... the word "state-of-the-art" is an adjective and means something like "most sophisticated". Why ??
    The word 'state' in 'state-of-the-art' derives from 'status', which partly explains why the adjective means 'most sophisticated'. This is from World Wide Words:
    "The suggestion in the Oxford English Dictionary is that the phrase started out in the late nineteenth century as status of the art, in other words, the current condition or level which some technical art had reached. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the phrase had changed to its modern form with the same meaning of “the current stage of development of a practical or technological subject”. It may have changed its form by a simple mistake, or by the process that grammarians call folk etymology or popular etymology, by which words change to fit speaker’s misconceptions of their real meanings. By the 1960s the word had shifted sense slightly to the way we use it now, which implies the newest or best techniques in some product or activity."
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