Podcast #128: We chat with Kent C Dodds about why he loves React and discuss what life was like in the dark days before Git. Listen now.
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Rowling commented on this in a 2004 live chat on World Book Day julesrbf: Where did you come up with the word "muggle"? Rowling: I was looking for a word that suggested both foolishness and loveability. The word 'mug' came to mind, for somebody gullible, and then I softened it. I think 'muggle' sounds quite cuddly. I didn't know that the word 'muggle'...


50

The term starship appeared in The Pageant of Life by George Barlow, first published in 1888: (Original Print, see page 206) This is likely the first appearance of the term in print and in the correct context — a ship traversing the "heavens". After this, we have appearances in R. Quiex's "War in Space" story (1926, as in Himarm's answer) F.K. Kelly'...


35

Similarity is completely coincidental. It is commonly assumed that Swift meant for the word Houyhnhnm, as well as other words from that language to sound vaguely like a horse's whinny. Houyhnhnm itself is pronounced who-in-em (or who-ee-in-em) which does appear to be modeled after a whinny. Rohirrim on the other hand is derived from Sindarin, the Elvish ...


33

Voldemort's followers were called "Death Eaters" because one of Voldemort's key goals was to use magic to fully control Death, directing its powers at Voldemort's sole command. Voldemort sees this as the sign of ultimate power, which is his foremost goal; to be the most powerful sorcerer ever. Obviously, killing (directing Death toward others) is easy; it'...


27

If it's a backronym, it was constructed as such before the show began. "An Unearthly Child" is the very first episode, and has this dialogue: SUSAN: The TARDIS can go anywhere. BARBARA: TARDIS? I don't understand you, Susan. SUSAN: Well, I made up the name TARDIS from the initials. Time And Relative Dimension In Space. I’d thought you both would ...


25

According to J.K. Rowling, the Death Eaters rose out of a group known as the Knights of Walpurgis, and she shared this in an interview with the BBC: "'...in here is the history of the Death Eaters and I don't know that I'll ever actually need it - but at some point - which were once called something different - they were called the Knights of Walpurgis...'...


24

In Universe: The Jedi Order evolved from the earlier Je'daii Order. "Observing the world around them, they saw two moons in the one sky—light Ashla and dark Bogan—and they understood the dual aspects to the Force, light and dark. The light defined the dark as the dark did the light. When balance was not maintained, Tython reacted to the imbalance with ...


23

A google search for 'Kwatz' generates quite a number of references within Zen and has a history with it. From what I see, it appear that the term is an exclamatory utterance (a nonsense word ?) that does not allow any analytical or intellectual interpretation. Am not familiar with 'Fall of Hyperion' but you state that the term is interjected in koans and ...


23

The US usage of "season" and the UK usage of "series" mean the same thing: a string of television episodes that are produced, and meant to air, back to back as a unit. The term derives from the fact that, in the US, broadcast television follows a seasonal pattern: broadcast shows air new episodes in the fall, winter, and spring, and take a break in the ...


22

Actually, the first use of this exact phrase, at least in printed works, was in 1875, according to Google's handy Ngram Viewer: Term "First Contact" in the English corpus, between 1500 AD and present This was used in an astronomical sense, in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society : Volumes 1874-1875 But for usage in the desired sense ...


19

...You got me, it's a tip of the hat to Heinlein. I've put in several homages to my favorite authors and at least one nod to a television show so far...but yep, that's Heinlein. However, the reasons the character Ia gives for boot chevrons during Basic Training in the first book, A SOLDIER'S DUTY, are the actual reasons the DoI (Department of Innovations) ...


16

Why do fans call them Xenomorphs? Because the characters in the movies referred to them as such. From Wikipedia: The term xenomorph (lit. "alien form"—from Greek xeno- or "strange" and -morph, shape) was used by the character Lieutenant Gorman in Aliens and by Ellen Ripley in a deleted scene from Alien 3. From the Aliens script: GORMAN: ...


15

Alicorn is the most common word used to describe said beast, however, in the Xanth series, there are also PegaCorns and UniPegs. All three creatures look exactly the same in the series, which is a subtle joke, and the only way to tell them apart is to ask them. This lists references citations where Alicorn is used to denote a winged unicorn. I can find ...


14

"Star" was used in the colloquial meaning of "inter*stellar*", as in "in space". See also "Starship" (it's not ship to go to a specific star) for similar usage.


14

Ursula Le Guin has stated that she coined the term because "it sounded like answerable." She's only addressed that once on record, though - in 2001, Usenet user Dave Goldman posted the following to rec.arts.sf.written (as archived on Google Groups): I've just started a writing workshop from Ms. Le Guin, so I asked her... Turns out that she derived "...


13

From the name of a lily in Kew Gardens. JK Rowling was once asked about names in an interview. She speculated that it might be the name of a flower that she’d once seen, although seemed to have forgotten herself: How do you come up with names? Some I make up. Some mean something. Dumbledore is olde English for bumblebee. I thought I made up Hogwarts,...


13

jessesword has reference to some very early uses, such as 1926 R. Quiex War in Space in Boys' Mag. 16 Oct. 30/1 Before they quarrelled, the two scientists invented a wonderful projectile, capable of travelling through the millions of miles of ether that separated Ikon and the world, swearing a solemn vow that neither would use it except in the ...


12

Their name comes indirectly from Christian symbolism. (See the books of John Granger for a thorough exploration of this symbolism in the Harry Potter books.) There's a long Christian tradition of calling the Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist, "the medicine of immortality"; it goes back to St Ignatius in the last first or early second century. If the ...


12

Proving that something did not exist before "X" is logically near impossible. But a search in Goggle books for "boot chevrons" finds 4 hits the earliest being a 1959 entry about Heinlein. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction - Volume 17 - Page 133 It would be safe to assume that the term was first published by him, of course the concept is real. ...


12

In letter 210 Tolkien does describe Orcs as squat, broad, flat-nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types. However elsewhere he consistently describes the word Orc as being of old English derivation. According to Tolkien in letter 144, the word [...


12

From a GateWorld interview with executive producers Brad Wright and Robert Cooper: GW: Who decided "Ori?" Who decided on that? RC: Well, "Origin." It's "Origin." The original idea was the origin of the Ancients, and then I looked at the root of "origin." So I thought, the Ori -- they invented the word "Origin," which is the religion that follows ...


11

The etymology of the name of the legendary Avengers craft comes from its design specifications: The quinjet first appeared in The Avengers #61 (February 1969) and was designed by the Wakanda Design Group, headed by the Black Panther, T'Challa. Each one is equipped with VTOL capability and five turbojet engines. A quinjet can reach Mach 2.1. Two highly ...


11

In Letter #297 Tolkien is rather scathing of attempts to find real-world sources for his nomenclature, but does admit: I may mention two cases where I was not , at the time of making use of them, aware of 'borrowing', but where it is probable, but by no means certain, that the names were nonetheless 'echoes'. Erech , the place where Isildur set the ...


10

According to the Dune Wiki, the name Arrakis comes either from the Arabic الراقص ar-rāqiṣ ("the dancer"1) or أرخص ar-rakhiṣ ("cheapest" or "of least worth"2). It may also be derived from the country Iraq (itself an Arabic name derived from the Sumerian city-state Uruk), which if nothing else is symbolically relevant due to it having large quantities of oil ...


10

According to Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, the first usage of the word "starship" is a short story by Frank Kelly called Star Ship Invincible. It was published in Astounding Stories in December 1934: starship n. a vehicle that is capable of travelling to other stars. Compare spaceship. 1934 Astounding Stories (Dec.) 9: To ...


9

An anecdotal answer: I've served in two branches of the U.S. military and worked closely with the other two and have never heard of the term "boot chevrons" or any variation of that term. During boot camp, some of the more capable recruits are appointed by the Senior DI (drill instructor, typically an E6) to leadership rolls within the recruit platoon. ...


9

The word "thrull" is not found in the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED is pretty good about noticing terms that are used even to describe fictional elements in science fiction and fantasy. (For example, it has citations for "vape" as a SF term meaning "vaporize" going back decades, to well before the word was use in connection with nicotine products.) ...


8

Gandalf is derived from the Old Norse and could be a composition of Gandr = staff and Alf = elf. So Gandalf means simply an elf with a staff. But the physical appearance of Gandalf as we know him from LOTR trilogy have perhaps its origin from the 19th century where romantic painters and writers imagined Oden / Odin, from the Norse mythology, as a lone ...


8

The pictures in fantasy art of "winged unicorns" do not depict the winged unicorn used in heraldry (a heraldic "ronaldus"), but rather a horse with wings (a heradic "pegasus") with a horn in the forehead. In heraldry, a unicorn is not a horse, but rather a chimaera with the body of a horse, a goat's cloven hooves and beard, a lion's tail, and a horn. The "...


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