'State-of-the-Art' Is the Best of Its Time

    18 November 2023

    And now, Words and Their Stories, from VOA Learning English.

    On this program we explore words and expressions in the English language. We give definitions, examples, and notes on usage. Sometimes we use them in short conversations.

    When it comes to learning a language, using words in conversations is not a state-of-the-art learning method. It is a traditional method that has stood the test of time because it works.

    Humanoid robot Figure 01 is demonstrated at Figure AI's test facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.
    Humanoid robot Figure 01 is demonstrated at Figure AI's test facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.

    So, what method would be considered state-of-the-art? Talking with an artificial intelligence robot or using some other cutting edge computer technology would be considered state-of-the-art. It would be the newest and best available.

    The phrase "state-of-the-art" also describes the highest level of development.

    We can use state-of-the-art to describe advancements in scientific fields. Any major scientific progress can be described as state of the art.

    State-of-the-art can also be called top of the line or best in its class.

    We can also say something is the pinnacle of technology, or the peak of performance if it is state-of-the-art. Another way to express this thought is to say it is on the forefront of technology, development or advancement in a particular field.

    Something that is state-of-the-art is innovative.

    These terms all have a similar meaning: something is the latest and greatest.

    Some word experts say this phrase originated in the early 20th century. It is now very commonly used in both formal and informal situations.

    Now, let's hear some of these terms used in a conversation between two friends.

    A: Wow, what do you have there?

    B: This is my new coffee machine. It is state-of-the-art.

    A: I can see that! It's really impressive.

    B: It has an on/off setting that I can control from my phone.

    A: You can start your coffee from across town.

    B: Yes, I can! The bean container is split into four parts. So, I can have different kinds of coffee.

    A: That is a great innovation!

    B: It gets better. This machine is the pinnacle of coffee technology! Its state-of-the-art technology can also steam milk and add a choice of five different flavorings.

    A: Well, enough talking! Let's have a cup of coffee! I'll take mine with caramel flavor and extra frothy milk.

    B: Um, yeah. That's going to have to wait for a bit.

    A: Why?

    B: I don't know how to use it yet. But I will after I read this 20-page instruction book.

    A: Got it. I can help. But first ... I'll go get us some coffee.

    And that's the end of this Words and Their Stories.

    Until next time ... I'm Anna Matteo.

    Anna Matteo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    conversation –n. An informal talk between two or more people

    pinnacle –n. the highest point of something

    peak –n. the top of something, such as a mountain, that comes to a sharp point

    forefront –n. the leading position