Franken- meaning genetically modified

Grant Barrett gbarrett at MONICKELS.COM
Mon Jan 8 10:54:04 UTC 2001

On lundi 8 janvier 2001 01:43, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM> wrote:

>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."

As I'm sure others will point out, first, the Word of the Decade doesn't meant the
usage, word or phrase was *coined* during that decade (although I think we strive for
that), merely that it became popular.

Second, while I agree that "potentially if not actively harmful" could be a valid
definition of the prefix "franken", the "genetically modified" usage is also valid and
widespread. Anecdotally, and as far as I can tell, the "genetically modified" usage
is currently more widespread, if only because popular belief is that "genetically
modified" equals "potentially if not actively harmful."

Grant Barrett
gbarrett at

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