In our world, we get our news about world events, the success or failure of business ventures, and even local interest stories via our smart phones, computers, televisions, or even radios. Newspapers are increasingly being replaced by online websites and email updates, with only elderly people who haven't adjusted to the change clinging to the old printed broadsheet. As a result, in less than a generation we may lose the meaning of many newspaper-related sayings, such as "hot off the press."

"Hot off the press" is a saying that has been around for a long time. It came into common usage in the early 1900s, particularly in advertising and news, and continues to be used to this day in such places as advertisements for a dentist in Calgary SW or a best selling novel about gambling addictions. The phrase was most popular in the United States, where sensation and sentiment ruled the day much more than in Great Britain, but the phrase was used throughout the English speaking world.

The meaning of the phrase is derived from the printing methods that were in use at the time. Newspapers were stamped out by a press, but in order to create the printing block that would hold the inked, hot metal was poured into a mould to form the words that made up the stories about pirates and shipwrecks. Therefore the newspapers that were freshly printed would still be hot due to their contact with a printing block made of metal that was still cooling.

This process used lead, which is harmful to humans, so though there are still printed newspapers and circulars, they do not use the same methods as the old printing presses. The newest issues are no longer hot to the touch, but the phrase continues to be used to indicate anything that is freshly printed, whether it's the jury summons in Canada or paperback novels, though it is mostly used in the context of breaking news, even if it is television or internet based.

The phrase 'hot off the press' has lingered on in popular usage and has even created its own spinoff slang. Referring to something as 'hot' when you mean fresh or new rather than its warm temperature, is a callback to this old newspaper phrase. Though hot metal is no longer used in printing, some laser printers and copiers use heat bonding, so your report can still be literally "hot off the press."




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