"Franken-" meaning genetically modified

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Mon Jan 8 00:43:23 UTC 2001

The ADS web page www.americandialect.org currently includes the following:

For Word of the Decade, web received 45 votes, the prefix e- 10, way meaning
yes (4), the prefix Franken meaning genetically modified as in Frankenfood
(2), ethnic cleansing (0) and senior moment (0).
<end quote>

First, "genetically modified" is an inadequate synonym if not an incorrect
definition.  The "Franken-" part means "potentially if not active harmful" or
perhaps "frightening".  It just happens that this particular citation was
about genetically modified food.

Second, I have found a 1967 citation for "Franken-".  It is in a science
fiction story "To Love Another" by James Blish and Norman L. Knight that was
published in the April 1967 issue of Analog Science Fiction.  A sideplot in
the story concerns the raising of something called "slimes" (presumably
fungi, but it is not made clear).  One of these slimes has something go wrong
with it and turns carnivorous.  At the bottom of page 23 column 2 somebody
says "we have a Frankenslio deal with."

James A. Landau
Systems Engineer
FAA Technical Center (ACT-350/BCI)
Atlantic City Airport NJ 08405 USA

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