131 votes
Accepted

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

TV Tropes calls it "Famous, Famous, Fictional." The trope description does not cite any other name, which means there almost certainly is not another commonly used term for it. (The trope ...
  • 87.9k
88 votes
Accepted

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

As per this RPG SE question, the first adventure was in a dungeon under a keep, and the name stuck. According to Gary Gygax (in an interview with Dungeon #112), the first dungeon crawl was part of a ...
  • 195k
78 votes

What's the deal with "marshmelons"?

It seems that Spock mis-pronounced the word A search on Memory Alpha and Beta shows there is no such thing as a 'marshmellon' referenced elsewhere on those sites. As further evidence for this, ...
  • 68.4k
73 votes
Accepted

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

"...wiped my face with a planet" means exactly what it says, from when Thanos brought a planet (actually one of Titan's moons1) down on Tony during their battle in Avengers: Infinity War. ...
  • 142k
63 votes
Accepted

Is there a polite term for "mudblood"?

Yes, at least three Most prominent is, of course, Muggleborn (or "Muggle-born" when used as an adjective). Ron draws an explicit distinction between the two terms in Chamber of Secrets1: "Mudblood'...
62 votes
Accepted

Term for immortality that only prevents death from old age

Negligible senescence largely fits the bill. Negligible senescence is a term coined by biogerontologist Caleb Finch to denote organisms that do not exhibit evidence of senescence (biological aging),...
  • 195k
56 votes
Accepted

What's the deal with "marshmelons"?

Spock didn't mispronounce the word, he was playing a practical joke on Bones. In this instance Memory Alpha seems to be in (slight) error. In the official novelisation, it's made clear that Spock was ...
  • 628k
47 votes
Accepted

Why are only X-Men called mutants?

Iron Man (in the MCU, at least) is just a genetically normal person with lots of money and technology. Sure, he had an arc reactor in his chest for a while, but he's no mutant. A mutant as seen in the ...
  • 1,580
47 votes

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

Jack has a carven pumpkin for a head. However, unlike most jack o' lanterns (which are cleaned out before they are carved), the "guts" of the pumpkin—the pulp and seeds—have not been ...
  • 87.9k
43 votes
Accepted

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

In the Star Wars universe, the term 'lightspeed' doesn't literally mean "traveling at the speed of light" (something that's actually scientifically impossible), it's simply shorthand for ...
  • 628k
39 votes

Does cyberpunk exclude interstellar space travel?

Wikipedia describes Cyberpunk as: a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of low-life and high tech"1 featuring advanced ...
39 votes
Accepted

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

Probably not. When guiding translators on how to properly render the word "Oliphaunt", Tolkien explicitly said that he had derived it from the Old French 'Olifant', saying that the intent ...
  • 77.2k
38 votes
Accepted

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

"The 411" is a reference to requesting (or in this case giving) information. It's listed in Maciej Widawski's African American Slang as "Information or fact" A "late night drop box" was used by ...
  • 628k
37 votes

Why are only X-Men called mutants?

Within Marvel, the term of "mutants" specifically refers to recipients of the "X-gene", homo superior. It is a specific genetic mutation with a wide variety of effects, occasionally indicated to be ...
  • 195k
36 votes
Accepted

Why is the Centauri state called a "Republic" when it has an emperor?

First of all, it can fit a theoretical definition: From B5 Wikia: The actual day to day business of running the republic is mostly handled by the Centaurum, which officially acts in an advisory ...
35 votes

Term for immortality that only prevents death from old age

"ageless" would work as it means: something (or someone) that does not look or appear to grow older Elrond's face is described as ageless (lotr, many meetings)
  • 1,326
29 votes

Why do the Borg refer to themselves as "We" and not "I"

The Borg describe themselves as a collective, the literal definition of which is "denoting a number of persons or things considered as one group or whole" - Merriam-Webster The Borg take in ...
  • 65.6k
27 votes
Accepted

What word describes organisations like the Federation, Klingon Empire, and Dominion in Star Trek?

In DS9: The Search (Part 2), the fake Admiral Alynna Nechayev refers to the groupings in the Alpha Quadrant as "Alliances": NECHAYEV: They're already meeting with representatives from the ...
  • 628k
27 votes
Accepted

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

I believe that it didn't originate in a work of fantasy, but rather in religion. Concretely, in Christianity, Satan was called the Prince of Darkness. This appears in Paradise Lost, by John Milton, ...
  • 112k
27 votes

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

The word dungeon derives from the French donjon for a central tower (or keep) in a castle, and the latter word is still used in this sense in English. It is possibly derived from the Latin dominus &...
25 votes

Term for immortality that only prevents death from old age

Undying is a term that refers specifically to a state of never being in a process of dying (such as Tolkien's Undying Lands), and applies mainly to life, rather than ideas, art, or appearance. It does ...
  • 12.8k
24 votes
Accepted

What separates a cyberpunk setting from a futuristic setting?

TL;DR: Cyberpunk is often described as "high tech and low life" - a dystopic world, in which hyper-capitalism (or the corporate state) has created a tiny upper class and a massive, ...
  • 67.5k
23 votes
Accepted

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

The term downwell appears to have first appeared in references to things going on inside actual underground wells. This Google N-grams search shows the term coming into use in the late 1950s, and if ...
  • 87.9k
19 votes

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

As far as the information from the HP books (and movies), Fantastic Beasts first movie, and as you mentioned in your question, the non-wizarding world people are addressed as: MUGGLES by the British ...
  • 26.5k
18 votes

What's the deal with "marshmelons"?

Marshmallows are a human food and not one that you eat often, likewise it's not everyday that you go camping (especially when you are own planet consists mostly of deserts and mountain ranges). It's ...
18 votes

Term for immortality that only prevents death from old age

Turning to roleplaying games, GURPS uses "Unkillable" for "immune to death by violence" and "Unaging" for "never growing older once mature".
17 votes

Why is the Centauri state called a "Republic" when it has an emperor?

You are mistaken in your assumption about empires and republics being mutually exclusive categories. For example, Octavius (Augustus Caesar) was Emperor of the Roman Republic. While you might want to ...
  • 18.3k
17 votes

Is the term "muggle" pejorative?

Out of universe: julesrbf: Where did you come up with the word "muggle"? JK Rowling replies -> I was looking for a word that suggested both foolishness and loveability. The word 'mug' came to ...
  • 12.8k
17 votes

Is the term "muggle" pejorative?

Any word that describes one group defined by some lack of ability relative to another group has the potential to be considered pejorative. When that happens, people create a euphemism designed not to ...

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible