Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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4
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0answers
68 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 fiction» were ...
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6answers
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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 ...
66
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3answers
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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 ...
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9answers
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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 ...
5
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1answer
162 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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
4k views

What are the different Star Wars Canons? [duplicate]

I've seen many many references across this site to C-Canon, G-Canon and a couple of N-Canons when answering Star Wars questions. I assume G-Canon has something to do with George Lucas but what are ...
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3answers
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What does “Wildfire” mean?

In season 1, episode 5 of The Walking Dead, we see Dr. Jenner at the CDC recording a video journal, which, it is implied, he intends to send to his superiors (although he clearly suspects that they ...
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1answer
833 views

“Betazoids” in The Last Starfighter versus Star Trek: The Next Generation

Released in 1984, The Last Starfighter is sometimes accused of borrowing too many themes and plot points from contemporaneous sci-fi fare, including the Star Wars trilogy. But conversely, one element ...
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6answers
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The origin and use of the term TARDIS

In the first serial, "An Unearthly Child", Susan Foreman claims, "I made up the name TARDIS from the initials, Time And Relative Dimension In Space." In "The Name of the Doctor", the guard watching ...
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1answer
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What separates a cyberpunk setting from a futuristic setting?

I understand this is a commonly used style in science-fiction. However, I can never determine the difference between what some call a "futuristic" setting and a "cyberpunk" setting....
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7answers
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Why is the Centauri state called a “Republic” when it has an emperor?

A republic is a state that is not a monarchy, while an emperor is clearly a monarch, so how is it that the Centauri Republic in Babylon 5 has an emperor? This isn't a question of accuracy but of ...
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1answer
219 views

What does “whip me” mean?

Harley Quinn is on her skates being towed by rope behind Huntress' bike: Harley Quinn: Whip me!
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0answers
116 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 ...
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3answers
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What is the etymology of parseltongue/parselmouth?

Where/how did Rowling come up with the terms "parseltongue" and "parselmouth"? Are they inspired by, or in any way rooted in, relevant real-world words/terms (perhaps related to snakes), or was it ...
33
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1answer
7k views

What is a nerf?

In the classic scene, Princess Leia slams Han Solo by calling him a stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder While clearly this cuts Han to the bone, I'...
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1answer
242 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. ...
13
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1answer
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Who or what is a “J.G. Scrunt”?

In the M. Night Shyamalan film Lady in the Water, the character of Story — a water nymph from the "Blue World" — is tormented by a grass-covered wolf-like creature called a "Scrunt". ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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4answers
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Why is time in the galaxy far far away described by reference to Yavin rather than Endor?

In the Star Wars universe, dates are usually given as "[number of years] BBY" or "[number of years] ABY" - that is, X years "Before the Battle of Yavin" or X years "...
22
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2answers
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 ...
28
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3answers
13k 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 ...
11
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3answers
719 views

Term for tricks in literature [closed]

In A Clash of Kings, A Song of Ice and Fire - Book 2, Tyrion tells three different stories about Myrcella to three different people in order to discover the fink. That was a great tactic. Is there a ...
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1answer
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 ...
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3answers
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Origin of word “matrix” used to describe a virtual reality environment?

What's the origin of the word "Matrix" used as either a name or a description of a virtual reality environment? The best known example is of course from the film of the same name, and it's widely ...
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1answer
168 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....
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4answers
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When did the terms science fiction and sci-fi enter our vernacular?

I know there's some debate on exactly when "science fiction" itself became a genre, but I'm curious if anyone knows either 1) when the term science fiction was coined and 2) when sci-fi became ...
5
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1answer
413 views

Is there a name for the kind of magic involving knotting and untying?

A fantasy book by Dianna Wynne Jones called Charmed Life has a character named Julia, she uses magic by knotting and untying a handkerchief. In the kid's book series called Magic Tree House, the main ...
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5answers
75k views

What is the difference between Alchemy, Sorcery and Witchcraft? [closed]

From a science fiction/fantasy point of view (I don't want to start a religious debate). From what I understand from the stories I've read, Alchemy combines magic and science. But then what is ...
3
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1answer
857 views

“Nadir” and “zenith” in Alliance-Union universe space navigation

In C.J. Cherryh's Chanur novels (part of her Alliance-Union universe) there's sometimes talk of starships arriving in a solar system at the system's nadir or zenith. At first I thought this just ...
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1answer
215 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.
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2answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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Why are only X-Men called mutants?

In X-Men, Wolverine, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, etc. are all mutants. Mutants are perhaps the people in the form of humans who have extraordinary powers. So, in that terms, why aren't Iron Man, Captain ...
6
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1answer
451 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 ...
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3answers
634 views

Are there subgenres for science fiction with accurate science vs. made up science?

Are there terms that describe a science fiction story that strictly adheres to, I guess, plausible science concepts and technology versus science fiction were the science is really just made up and is ...
12
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2answers
811 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 ...
5
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1answer
574 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 ...
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3answers
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What's the deal with “marshmelons”?

In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy enjoy some quality time together around the campfire, musing about life, death, baked beans, and rowing boats gently down streams. In ...
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10answers
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What is the difference between “Warp” and “Transwarp”?

In Star Trek III, Kirk takes the Enterprise out on a little "joyride", with the U.S.S. Excelsior in hot pursuit (initially). The audience learns that the Excelsior is equipped with "trans-warp drive". ...
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3answers
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Did the term “congresscritter” originate in SF, and, if so, who first used it?

The title pretty much says it all. I thought it would be easy to find the origin by googling, but although there are many references, none of the ones I scanned included the origin. I remember ...
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2answers
613 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?
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7answers
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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 ...
19
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1answer
5k views

What does the term “breeder” mean in The Chronicles of Riddick?

In The Chronicles of Riddick, both Vaako and his wife Dame Vaako refer to Riddick as a "breeder". Is this a race they are presuming he is a member of? I say "presuming" because later on What does the ...
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5answers
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What is headology in Discworld?

In Discworld, Granny Weatherwax discusses "headology" fairly often as one of the keys to her power. What exactly does she mean by the term?
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1answer
144 views

Terminology for a macro scale “Grey Goo” Scenario

Ive 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 ...
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1answer
1k views

What is a “Plutition Camp”?

Okay, we're deep blue inside baseball here. In the original Blade Runner script, Batty's valedictory speech goes like this: “I’ve known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve ...
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1answer
184 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?
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4answers
8k views

Why so little steam in steampunk?

In the vast majority of discussions of Steampunk work, in art and culture I see more references to clockwork items than steam-powered paraphernalia. It seems as though the term is more or less ...
5
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1answer
744 views

What is a clan-fam?

While reading through The Gunslinger, I came across the following line in the 2nd paragraph of Chapter 5: sullen, inbred clan-fams, toiling silently in the fields by day. I googled the term and it ...
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1answer
1k views

Was “Sanctuary Moon” a proper name specifically limited to the forest moon of Endor, or a category representing a general type of moon?

The forest moon of Endor is sometimes referred to as "the Sanctuary Moon". Is the term "Sanctuary Moon" a proper name, unique to the Ewok's homeworld, or is the forest moon of Endor merely one of ...