A fad is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior's being perceived as novel in some way. A fad is said to "catch on" when the number of people adopting it begins to increase rapidly. The behavior will normally fade quickly once the perception of novelty is gone.

The specific nature of the behavior associated with a fad can be of any type including language usage, apparel, financial investment, and even food. Apart from general novelty, fads may be driven by mass media programming, emotional excitement, peer pressure, or the desire of 'being hip'.

Though the term trend may be used interchangeably with fad, a fad is generally considered a fleeting behavior whereas a trend is considered to be a behavior that evolves into a relatively permanent change.

In the late 1950s, the word beatnik had been a major fad when a journalist coined it as a portmanteau between "beat" and "sputnik". However, it faded away as its original proponents abandoned the underlying attitudes which were supposed to go along with it. Though this fad, in and of itself, was short-lived, it is credited with giving birth to the hippie movement in the following decade, and with inspiring other social trends in the decades that followed.

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