Groundhog Day as cinenym

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Feb 3 19:45:50 UTC 2005

At 12:55 PM -0500 2/3/05, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>"ProQuest Phil" didn't see his shadow, so it's eight more weeks of
>no updates whatsoever.
>Every day of my life is Groundhog Day. Lunch is almost over--back to
>parking tickets.

How many other lexical items originated as movie titles that don't
actually refer directly to any  property encoded by that lexical
item?  That is, the interpretation of "Groundhog Day" in e.g. "Every
day of my life is Groundhog Day" or "It's (like) Groundhog Day
(again)" derives by transfer from the fact that the movie in question
is about a Bill-Murray-type figure who must relive the same day over
and over again, or whatever.  Let's say that this particular kind of
semantic transfer or shift results in a cinenym.  (Sorry about that.)
What are other examples?  One I can think of off the cuff is
"Gaslight".   (The less interesting cinenyms are the more transparent
ones, such as "Star Wars" or "Back to the Future"; the more
interesting ones involve aspects of the plot that are not accessible
from the title itself.)

Related question:  when do lexicographers begin to list such
non-compositional lexical items?  I note that AHD4 for Groundhog Day
just has

'February 2, on which according to popular legend the groundhog
emerges from its burrow, prompting the prediction of an early spring
if it does not see its shadow or six more weeks of winter if it does.'

--which doesn't much help for recovering the relevant sense of the
term.  Sim., OED.    But the OED (although not the AHD) does have
_gaslight_ (verb and gerundive noun) as a cinenym based on the 40's
movie:  "to manipulate (a person) by psychological means into
questioning his or her own sanity".  So maybe Groundhog Day will join
it some day, although the odds are against a denominal verb arising
to carry the day.


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