Reading this article, there is a phrase,

The fight to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour was launched nearly a decade ago, and some on the left are now saying the proposal is already outdated and the amount needs to be higher. Republicans have offered a lower amount, with GOP Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mitt Romney of Utah proposing a plan in February that would raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour by 2025, but that gained little traction, with critics noting that it’s lower than what many states — including Arkansas — currently have in place.

There are too many definitions on Merriam so that I would like to refrain from copying and pasting all here.

I assume "gain little traction" means "gain almost no support", am I correct?

  • 3
    "Gain traction" It's in the dictionary (or Cambridge dictionary at least) the fact of an idea, product, etc. becoming popular or being accepted: In our digital age, it takes less time for new words and phrases to gain traction than it did in the past. – James K Apr 29 at 20:05
  • @JamesK Thanks! There is no entry in the Merriam. Yes, you say perfectly correct.:) – Kentaro Apr 29 at 20:07
  • I would like a formal answer so that I leave this thread here. – Kentaro Apr 29 at 20:12
  • 1
    Yes it is in M-W: Sense 3 merriam-webster.com/dictionary/traction – James K Apr 29 at 21:39
  • @JamesK Thanks. I was using the paid version. it only says "3 the support or interest that is needed for something to make progress or succeed". – Kentaro Apr 29 at 21:42

It's an idiomatic metaphor.

The idea comes with an engine pulling a railway train. If the rails are slippery because of bad weather, or whatever, the wheels of the engine tend to slip, and so the train cannot pull the train. This is referred to as "loss of traction".

If the metaphorical engine cannot gain traction, it means it can't stop its wheels slipping on the rails and so can't pull the train.

In a similar way, an idea is pictured as being an engine pulling a train of supporters of that idea. If it can't gain traction, it can't gain support.

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