Submitted by johnson on December 21, 2004

State of the Art

I know that the expression “State of the Art” means “the best or most up to date” but does anyone know how this phrase ended up with this meaning ?

If you break down the words within the phrase it seems to have no bearing on its current usage ie it could be reconstructed to say “what state is the art in”, as in what condition is the art in but there is no word within the phrase that implies good quality or the best of ?

Any suggestions ?

Johnson, Samuel

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From www.wordorigins.org :

"This term arose in engineering circles. The earliest known usage is from 1910, in H.H. Suplee's Gas Turbine. There is a use of the term status of the art dating to 1889 in Anthony's Photography Bulletin."

That might help. more later.

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I suspect saying "this is state of the art" is an abbreviated way of saying "this represents (or embodies) the state of the art", that is, this item is made with the most up to date techniques.

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