Set 27 – Five New Words for Jan 27

Theme: Words coined in science fiction

1. grok

MEANING:
verb tr.: To understand deeply and intuitively.

ETYMOLOGY:
Coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. Earliest documented use: 1961.

NOTES:
In Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein describes grok as a Martian word meaning “to drink”. That’s the literal meaning; however, figuratively it means to understand something in a profound way. To grok something is to be one with it in a way that the observer and the observed become merged.

USAGE:
“Any first-time Apple user immediately groks the nature of the device.”

2. waldo

MEANING:
noun: A device for manipulating objects by remote control, for example, a remotely-operated arm.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Waldo F. Jones, an inventor in a science-fiction story by Robert A. Heinlein

NOTES:
Modern applications of waldo as a remote manipulator are in surgery, space, and in working in hazardous conditions, such as those involving radiation.

USAGE:
“I stuck my hand back into the waldo … The remote arms peeled back the thin metal of the gondola.”

3. tardis

MEANING:
noun:
1. A time machine.
2. Something that is much bigger than it appears from the outside.

ETYMOLOGY:
From TARDIS, a time machine in the British science-fiction TV series, Doctor Who.

NOTES:
In the Doctor Who television show, the title character, known simply as the Doctor, travels through time and space in TARDIS that looks like a police call box from the outside. It’s much bigger on the inside though, and includes a swimming pool, a library, and more. The name TARDIS is explained as an acronym for Time and Relative Dimension in Space.

4. triffid(TRIF-id, TRY-fid)

MEANING:
noun: An out-of-control plant that overruns everything around it. Also, anything that behaves in this manner.

USAGE:
“Ecologists reckon that triffid weeds, Monterey pines, and dozens of other invasive plants already extend over one-twelfth of South Africa.”

5. frankenstein

MEANING:
noun:
1. A creation that gets out of control and brings harm to its creator.
2. One who creates something that brings ruin to himself.
3. A monster having human appearance.

USAGE:
“The Talos-state is no longer a servant of society; it has been transformed into a Frankenstein that is about to move against his inventors.”

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