Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott today mind-bogglingly described the push for marriage equality as a "fashion of the moment", thus equating human rights issues with your choice of shirt colour. That remark sounds decidedly old-fashioned, but we don't have to simply assume that; there are plenty of online tools that can help demonstrate just when a particular phrase was most popular. Let's check out a few.
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For tracking language usage in Australia, the most useful public resource is Trove, which scans Australia newspapers right up until the end of the 1970s (and longer in some caes). Trove requires registration but is free to use. Searching for the phrase "fashion of the moment" finds 2155 results. What's indicative is seeing those results sorted by decade:
We can see usage clearly peaking in the 1910s, dropping sharply in the 1940s and all but disappearing after that.
For an even longer-term view, reader KM points out to me on Twitter that you can use Google's Books Ngram Viewer to search for a phrase. While this isn't Australia-only, it gives you an even bigger corpus of text over a longer period. Here's how the phrase was used in books between 1800 and 2000
This shows almost exactly the same pattern.
For a different and more recent view, we can look on Google Trends, which maps terms people are searching for online. If you look for "fashion of the moment", you discover that this phrase has not been looked for often enough anywhere in the world since 2004 to be meaningfully graphed:
If you're interested in language use and how it changes, or just want to avoid sounding as if you wish the world had never changed since 1940, all these tools are handy to keep in mind.