Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1a: a prevailing tendency or inclination : DRIFT
// current trends in education
1b: a general movement : SWING
// the trend toward suburban living
1c: a current style or preference : VOGUE
// new fashion trends
1d: a line of development : APPROACH
// new trends in cancer research

Whereas, Oxford defines it as:

A general direction in which something is developing or changing.
‘an upward trend in sales and profit margins’

Oxford defines it as a "general direction" of the changes/developments. On the other hand, Merriam-Webster's various definitions of the word does not even connote a direction. Could you also, please, explain the different meanings provided by Merriam-Webster using more simpler usages? Thank you.

  • Most currently used sense is 1c IMO. Note also current usage of “trending” . macmillandictionaryblog.com/trending
    – user29952
    Sep 28, 2020 at 13:50
  • @user121863 What are some non-fashion "trends" in that sense of the word? I'm a new learner, please help me out. Thank you.
    – adieng
    Sep 28, 2020 at 13:51
  • 1
    A 'line of development' is a metaphorical directional. A time-line showing increase in infection rate, decrease in weekly sales etc. Sep 28, 2020 at 13:52
  • @EdwinAshworth but there is "approach" next to that. Its so confusing.
    – adieng
    Sep 28, 2020 at 13:59
  • 'A general movement' clearly implies direction, and the word toward in the associated example makes that even clearer.
    – jsw29
    Sep 28, 2020 at 15:13

1 Answer 1


They’re actually both correct. Oxford refers to a “general direction” of change, but they don’t clarify that direction can be conceptual or metaphorical, not just physical. Merriam-Webster's various definitions are more specific usages but all indicate some sort of direction.

More generally, any information that you could display on a graph over time (such as educational methods used, where people live, popularity of fashion styles, or cancer research activity) and the result would show directional movement can be described as a trend.

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