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Questions tagged [terminology]

This tag is for questions about words, terms, or phrases in Sci-Fi or Fantasy.

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Is this use of "prone" in Hiero's Journey an error, a crass commentary, or something else?

I was rereading Sterling Lanier's 1973 novel Hiero's Journey this week, because I was trying to determine whether I remembered correctly that it contained a giant centipede. (So far, there hasn't ...
Buzz's user avatar
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1 vote
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123 views

Do Australian and Canadian wizards say "Muggle" or "No-Maj"?

In the USA, non-magic people are called "No-Maj(e)s" rather than Muggles. What is the term used in Canada and Australia? Since they're Commonwealth Realms, it's likely they also say Muggle. ...
John's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Origin of the word "Tholian" in Star Trek

I recently learned that the word "tholian" is an Old English word meaning "to suffer, endure." Is it known whether Judy Burns and Chet Richards knew this fact, and deliberately ...
Andrew's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
263 views

When and where did 'hench' become a verb? [closed]

Inspired by this question, when did people start to use "hench" as a verb? Was there a popular fictional origin, or did this usage originally come from non-fiction discussions of villains' ...
Andrew's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
225 views

What does "alpha" mean?

In Avatar (2009) extended version, Max and Dr. Grace are trying to wake Jake Sully up from the pod: GRACE : Jake. Jake! MAX: He's in alpha. He's coming out right now. What does "alpha" ...
Austin May's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is 'Vulcanian' a disparaging term?

The typical term for an inhabitant of Vulcan is "Vulcan" - but occasionally the term 'Vulcanian' is used (most notably by Harry Mudd in Mudd's Women). Is this term considered (in-universe) ...
Andrew's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
245 views

What exactly is "Time steps aside" in A Sound of Thunder?

In Ray Bradbury's classic short story "A Sound of Thunder", a character named Lesperance explains why he wouldn't bump in to a time-traveling himself: Time doesn't permit that sort of mess­—...
Aaron Liu's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is "Dank Farrik" an exclamatory or a cuss word?

I have seen Dank Farrik being used only in the Mandalorian show and only in scenes where the word sayer either is in trouble or just surprised. This makes me wonder is it an exclamatory word akin to - ...
shanu's user avatar
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17 votes
4 answers
3k views

First science fiction story to use the word "laser" or "maser"?

I doubt that the word usage preceded the invention of a functioning laser but I think that is possible since the principle of the laser was understood years before one was created. "Ray guns"...
releseabe's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
2k views

First Age "of the Sun" terminology

I saw a statement a couple weeks ago that the terminology of ages "of the Sun" in Middle-earth appeared nowhere in Tolkien's actual works and that it was invented by fans. This seems ...
Buzz's user avatar
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7 votes
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What's the earliest use of the word/words "Redshirt"/"Red Shirt" to mean "expendable character?

In Harry Turtledove's Three Miles Down which takes place in 1974, the main character (an SF writer and fan in his early 20s) thinks "The first redshirt down on some new planet didn’t have a ...
Andrew's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
771 views

What precisely does the term 'Proto-Adamantium' refer to?

'Proto-Adamantium' is a term used in association with the metal Captain America's shield is composed of in the Marvel Earth-616 comics. That metal was originally a fusion of Wakandan Vibranium and an ...
LogicDictates's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
86 views

What is the name for the specific character archetype common in traditional Sword and Planet stories like John Carter?

You see it a lot more in other ERB works like Pellucidar or Philip José Farmer's World of Tiers (John Carter is just the most famous these days). It's a term used to describe the standard character ...
Idontknowsomething's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
121 views

Name for trope where a POV character has someone hanging out in their mind?

I've seen this trope in a lot of different media, where a telepathic being (not necessarily capable of telepathy with anyone, this can be limited to the one character) is just sort of hanging out in ...
Evyn's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
4k views

What does "they could use you for seed" mean in The Marvelous Land of Oz?

I was reading The Marvelous Land of Oz and came across this unusual passage. This unusual statement is made when the Scarecrow, Tip, and Jack are going to flee the Emerald City after the Army of Girls ...
RedMaw's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
760 views

What is the origin of the name "Megatron"?

In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg's father calls her by two nicknames: "Megaparsec" (whose meaning she explains) and also the much more opaque "Megatron." At last she turned to her ...
Buzz's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
423 views

Is there common fantasy term for a group of people composed of various species that the speaker is not a member of?

In our own language we have the term alien, which we also use in sci-fi settings. In Warhammer 40K humans use the term Xenos to describe a group of intelligent beings that contain none of our own ...
Mox's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
165 views

What is a tabukuk?

Near the beginning of Keith Laumer's A Plague of Demons,* two spies are meeting in a restaurant in North Africa, and one sweeps their table for surveillance devices. We went through a ritual of hand ...
Buzz's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
3k views

Was Tolkien's concept of an Oliphaunt borrowed from Afrikaans?

The Afrikaans word for an Elephant is an 'Olifant' which is phonetically similar if not identical to the mythical elephant-like creatures called the Oliphaunt. There is even a scene in the movie where ...
Neil Meyer's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
181 views

Could it ever make sense to use megahertz as a unit of energy? [closed]

I'm reading Nnedi Okorafor's book Noor. In it, the author describes a character who has invented a way to transmit energy through the air using some kind of light wave. OK, I get it, it's sci-fi, I ...
nuggethead's user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
346 views

Why do "The Gamesters of Triskelion" refer to "thralls" instead of "slaves," or speak of them being "vended," rather than "sold"?

My favorite episode of the original Star Trek series, "The Gamesters of Triskelion," is about slavery. However, although the characters do occasionally refer to the situation using words ...
Buzz's user avatar
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7 votes
0 answers
129 views

What is the industry term for a early shot that identifies a movie (or television show) as science fiction, when that might not otherwise be obvious? [closed]

I remember once hearing somebody in the film industry use a term for a brief early scene or shot that marked out that a film would be part of the science fiction. For example, the films Predator (...
Buzz's user avatar
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20 votes
2 answers
8k views

Why is it called 'Lightspeed' if the ships aren't traveling at the speed of light?

In the Star Wars franchise, they can travel through hyperspace to other systems and planets. But Han in Star Wars: A New Hope said they needed to make the jump to lightspeed. And there have been ...
Firestryke's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
328 views

Origin of the use of exclamation marks to attach modifiers to distinguish different versions of characters

In online fandom communities, I've noticed a not-uncommon convention (though I'm not sure it's the prevailing convention; more common seems to be a simple space or a hyphen) of using an exclamation ...
Muzer's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
147 views

Is there a term for scifi set in space that isn’t space opera? [closed]

The term “space opera” implies far more than merely being set in space. It is patterned after “soap opera” and has implications of melodrama and so forth. Is there any term for scifi set in space that ...
Anonymous's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
339 views

Is there a name for the genre of fiction in which problems are solved by the main character "just being special"?

There is a trend in some science fiction/fantasy art (literature, TV, movies, etc) to make main characters special in some deep way, and then use their special qualities to solve the major conflicts ...
cduston's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
392 views

On the words "science fiction" and "scientifiction"

One of the many mysteries surrounding the origins of science fiction is when this word was used first and who invented it: it was my understanding that both "scientifiction" and «science ...
Zab Zonk's user avatar
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18 votes
6 answers
8k views

Does cyberpunk exclude interstellar space travel?

I'm wondering about the 'definition' of cyberpunk. In the ones I've read, space travel was only nearby stuff: earth orbit, moon, mars and maybe other solar system areas. Which I appreciate because ...
Daniel's user avatar
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68 votes
3 answers
8k views

Where did the concept of a (fantasy-style) "dungeon" originate?

Everyone knows what a dungeon is: it's a dank, bleak underground jail where medieval prisoners get locked up. Unless you're in a fantasy story, of course! In that case it's an area, generally ...
Mason Wheeler's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
207 views

Was the term "lifesigns" meant to be "countable" from the beginning?

Lifesigns is a common term on (as far as I can remember) all Star Trek series. "Lifesigns"/"no lifesigns" can be an aspect of sensor readings when scanning a remote location such ...
O. R. Mapper's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
374 views

What does "whip me" mean?

Harley Quinn is on her skates being towed by rope behind Huntress' bike: Harley Quinn: Whip me!
Earl Gane's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
353 views

Where did "eleven-dimensional chess" originate? [closed]

Unusual chess variants, often with boards in more than two dimension, are not uncommon in science fiction. The most famous examples come from Star Trek. You can even buy something like the Star Trek ...
Buzz's user avatar
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-3 votes
1 answer
484 views

What's the meaning of "shockwave through time measurable"?

In Terminator Dark Fate (2019) there is this conversation: T 800: When my mission was completed, there were no further orders. So for 20 years, I kept learning how to become more human. ...
Rickie's user avatar
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28 votes
2 answers
4k views

What work originated the term "dark lord" as a conventionalized title for a preternatural overlord?

In a comment on one of my recent answers, someone snarked at my calling Darth Vader "the dark lord," as if that title were specific to Voldemort from the Harry Potter novels. Actually, the title is ...
Buzz's user avatar
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22 votes
2 answers
4k views

What's the meaning of "411 on the late-night drop box"?

Nick Fury walks up behind Captain Marvel: Nick Fury: Uh, I'd like to ask you some questions. Maybe give you the 411 on the late-night drop box. Could I see some identification, please? What's ...
Keith Johnson's user avatar
19 votes
1 answer
2k views

What’s the first use of the term “Downwell”

Downwell is used as a term for being on-planet, down a gravity well. I first heard it recently reading the Imperial Radch trilogy, and just saw the term used in promo for another story, and was ...
porglezomp's user avatar
28 votes
3 answers
14k views

What is the meaning of "wiped my face with a planet"?

In Avengers: Endgame (2019), Tony Stark says about Thanos: Tony Stark: I didn't fight him. No, he wiped my face with a planet... while the Bleecker Street magician gave away the store. What is ...
Cynthia Morgan East's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
7k views

What is the meaning of word 'crack' in chapter 33 of A Game of Thrones?

From chapter 33 of A Game of Thrones: "It's not murder I find amusing, Lord Stark, it's you. You rule like a man dancing on rotten ice. I daresay you will make a noble splash. I believe I heard ...
Rajesh Prajapati's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
220 views

Is there a name for the style/genre of Sci-Fi using floating, illuminated technology elements?

Astral Chain, Mass Effect, Halo 4 (with the Forerunner technology and weapons) and Black Panther are all examples of Science Fiction that make use of floating, illuminated elements in their technology....
SeeDerekEngineer's user avatar
-6 votes
1 answer
243 views

Futuristic visual style - Thor: Ragnarok, Transistor video game [closed]

What is this colorful and futuristic visual style you can see in Thor: Ragnarok the Transistor video game? Thor: Ragnarok - end credits - YouTube.
LiveLongAndProsper's user avatar
50 votes
10 answers
16k views

Term for immortality that only prevents death from old age

Is there a term for immortality that only prevents death from old age? For example, the elves from The Lord of the Rings are "immortal", but only to the effects of dying from age. They can still be ...
SeeDerekEngineer's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
176 views

Has the term "bosonics" ever been used explicitly in a story or film?

The BBC article Cern plans even larger hadron collider for physics search by BBC Science correspondent Pallab Ghosh is interesting for several reasons. One was a curious error that has since been ...
uhoh's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
992 views

Is there a term for real-world science-based SciFi? [duplicate]

I've read just a few books in SciFi genre, never liked it, because it's usually written by writers, not scientists. Though, recently I've read few books written by Peter Watts and Stanislaw Lem. There ...
stkvtflw's user avatar
  • 239
6 votes
1 answer
885 views

What is the genre of fantasy stories that take place in a science fiction universe?

There are some stories that superficially look like they belong squarely in the fantasy genre but contain hints (or even major revelations) that the world was a sci-fi setting all along. The ...
Natural30's user avatar
  • 1,016
6 votes
1 answer
955 views

Where did the term "the living impaired" originate?

In The Simpsons episode 9F04, "Treehouse of Horror III" (1994), Lisa refers to the "zombies" that Bart has just summoned and Bart snarkily replies that Please Lis, they prefer to be called "the ...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
103 votes
2 answers
8k views

Is there a term for the science fiction trope where a character lists two historical things and a future thing?

In Babylon 5, for example, a character lists famous bombings like "Hiroshima, Dresden, San Diego" with the first items in the list being real and the last being fictional. This dialog technique of ...
Wickethewok's user avatar
-20 votes
2 answers
691 views

What does MCU stand for?

I see the acronym MCU being used a lot on Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange. What does it stand for?
Hobo_warrior's user avatar
19 votes
7 answers
8k views

What is the in-universe term for Muggles in other countries?

Muggles, as we know, are the people who have no magical ability and are born in a non-magical family. Non-magical people are called Muggles in the British magical community and 'No-maj' in the ...
Tyrion Lannister's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
250 views

Terminology for a macro scale "Grey Goo" Scenario

I've recently been playing which, in large part, features the typical grey goo scenario (automated manufacturers consuming all life on Earth in their efforts to endlessly reproduce.) The difference ...
Nick's user avatar
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-6 votes
1 answer
214 views

Who came up with the term "Earthling"?

Or, to make matters a bit more attainable, what is the earliest occurrence of the term attested in writing?
Thomas's user avatar
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