Where did the phrase “inquiring minds want to know” come from?

In this article, we will explore the origins and cultural impact of the popular phrase “inquiring minds want to know.” We will delve into its historical background, examine its usage and popularity, and discover how it has found its way into various forms of media and popular culture.


The phrase “inquiring minds want to know” has become a familiar expression in the English language. It is often used to emphasize the curiosity of individuals seeking information. While it is widely recognized today, its origins might surprise you.

Origins of the Phrase

The National Enquirer

The roots of the phrase can be traced back to the National Enquirer, a tabloid newspaper known for its sensational headlines and stories. In the 1980s, the National Enquirer used the tagline “Enquiring minds want to know” in its advertising campaigns. This catchphrase aimed to appeal to readers’ curiosity and entice them to purchase the publication.

Advertising Campaigns

The success of the National Enquirer’s advertising campaigns led to the widespread adoption of the phrase in popular culture. Other media outlets and advertisers recognized its catchy nature and began incorporating it into their own promotional materials. Over time, the phrase gained momentum and became ingrained in the collective consciousness.

Cultural Impact

As the phrase gained popularity, it became a cultural reference point for curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge. It resonated with people’s natural inquisitiveness and became a shorthand way of expressing the desire for information. Its simple yet effective wording made it memorable and easily adaptable to different contexts.

Usage and Popularity

Media References

The phrase “inquiring minds want to know” quickly found its way into various forms of media. News outlets, both serious and light-hearted, began using it in headlines and articles to pique readers’ interest. The phrase’s playful tone and inherent curiosity made it an ideal fit for journalists looking to captivate their audience.

Internet Memes and Social Media

With the rise of the internet and social media, the phrase took on a life of its own. It became a popular meme and was widely shared on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. People used it to express their thirst for knowledge or to sarcastically highlight absurd or trivial inquiries. Its versatility in the digital landscape contributed to its ongoing popularity.

The Phrase in Popular Culture

Television and Film

The phrase “inquiring minds want to know” has made its way into television shows and movies. It often appears in dialogue, reinforcing characters’ curiosity or the investigative nature of certain plotlines. From detective dramas to comedies, this phrase has become a staple in storytelling, adding a touch of intrigue and humor.

Literature and Music

Beyond visual media, the phrase has also permeated literature and music. Authors and songwriters have incorporated it into their works to evoke a sense of curiosity or to emphasize the desire for answers. Its use in these creative realms showcases its staying power and ability to resonate with different artistic forms.


The phrase “inquiring minds want to know” originated from the advertising campaigns of the National Enquirer. Over time, it has become deeply ingrained in popular culture, being used in various media and creative outlets. Its simple yet impactful wording captures the essence of curiosity and the human desire for knowledge.


1. Is “inquiring minds want to know” trademarked by the National Enquirer? No, the National Enquirer did not trademark the phrase. It has become a common expression used by various individuals and media outlets.

2. Are there any other popular catchphrases associated with the National Enquirer? Yes, the National Enquirer is also known for its “Just the facts, ma’am” tagline, which is often used humorously or sarcastically in reference to the publication’s sensationalistic reporting style.

3. Can I use the phrase “inquiring minds want to know” in my own writing? Certainly! The phrase is part of the public lexicon and can be used freely in personal or creative works. However, it’s always important to ensure proper attribution when referencing specific sources or brands.

4. Has the National Enquirer continued to use the phrase in its advertising? While the National Enquirer’s advertising campaigns have evolved over the years, the phrase “Enquiring minds want to know” is still associated with the publication and its history.

5. Are there any other phrases or catchphrases that have gained similar popularity? Yes, several catchphrases have become widely recognized and used in various contexts, such as “Where’s the beef?” and “I want my MTV.” These phrases often become embedded in popular culture due to their catchy nature and cultural impact.

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