Catch on

To “catch on” is to become popular.

Today's story: Mullet haircuts
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Catch on

Today I’m going to show you how to use the English phrasal verb “catch on.” To “catch on” is to become popular. In today’s main lesson about the controversial mullet haircut, I said that the mullet is starting to catch on in the cities in Australia .

Before, a mullet was considered a haircut for people in rural areas; it’s not really stylish; it’s not prestigious. Even the people who have mullets say it’s not prestigious: that’s kind of the point. It’s part of the mullet’s identity.

But now it’s starting to catch on in the cities, among sports stars, with celebrities, even in high-end salons in Sydney. It’s starting to catch on: it’s starting to become popular.

This happens with fashion a lot. In fact, if you want to know what will catch on in the United States next year, then go to Europe today. Fashions often originate in Europe. Americans look at what’s popular there with a little skepticism. And then often those fashions catch on here the next year.

If you want to talk about something that became popular in the past tense, just say something “caught on.”

We talked a few lessons back about hard seltzer. This is something that caught on quickly. It quickly became popular. This was in Lesson 474 : hard seltzer was barely a product and then White Claw came out and it really caught on. It became very popular, very quickly.

Not everyone drinks White Claw; not everyone drinks hard seltzer. I don’t, for example. But you can say that something is popular among a group of people, and you can say “catch on with” and then the group.

White Claw caught on quickly with younger people who are more health-conscious. That means that people who are trying to cut down on liquid calories, for example, or trying not to consume too much alcohol—they are the ones who like White Claw. White Claw is catching on with younger, more health-conscious consumers.

Are any of you in the metaverse? No, I didn’t think so. I’m not either. The metaverse has still not caught on. It’s still not popular. Mark Zuckerberg is the CEO of a company called Meta. He believes in the metaverse so much that he changed his company name from Facebook to Meta. To prepare us all for a future in the metaverse, which Meta will dominate, supposedly, Mark Zuckerberg released an image of himself in the metaverse. Unsurprisingly, he’s by himself, all alone there in the metaverse.

The image was … disturbing. His arm is in an unnatural position. The Eiffel Tower is in the background, I think Notre Dame cathedral is right next to it, but there is no other part of Paris. There is one tree (one tree!). It looks like a child’s cartoon. Admittedly, I don’t know what the metaverse is going to be like. But as of now, it looks like the metaverse is being created in a kindergarten classroom, or with Microsoft Paint.

I’m having fun with this because the metaverse has not caught on yet. It’s not popular (yet?). There’s not much to do. The headsets are heavy and disorienting. And the people who talk about the metaverse haven’t given the public a clear idea of what it is, or why we should care. And so for those many reasons, the metaverse has still not caught on. Maybe it will catch on in the future, who knows.

Song of the Week

September 22, 2022; today is the first day of fall, autumn. And that means summer is officially over. So JR picked one last summer song for today—“All Summer Long” by Kid Rock.

It starts out this way: “It was 1989, my thoughts were short, my hair was long.” He did not have a mullet. But I like that there was a haircut reference right at the top of today’s song of the week.

The music is kind of a medley of a few popular rock songs. The music, at the beginning, is borrowed from “Sweet Home Alabama,” and later on it borrows from another famous rock song, “Werewolves of London.” It sounds like a little bit of a country song, it was played on country and pop stations here in the U.S.

It’s about summertime in northern Michigan, a state in the Midwest, an area with a lot of lakes—it’s cold in the winter, but really nice for a summer getaway in the warm weather. So it’s a bit of a nostalgic song about teenage summers. It’s good, check it out “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock.

See you next time!

And that’s all for today, September 22, 2022. Remember, Plain English is where we help you upgrade your English every Monday and Thursday with current events and trending topics. There’s a full lesson set on the web site twice a week. And the transcript of each lesson is absolutely free. You can get the transcript of today’s lesson by visiting PlainEnglish.com/505.

We’ll be back on Monday with a new lesson it’s the first of a few lessons on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. We’ll be back on Monday for that—see you then.

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Story: Mullet haircuts