fun-tastic (1939)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Fri Jan 21 10:20:21 UTC 2005

Grant Barrett has a new DTWW entry for the suffix "-tacular":

Grant found cites for nominal forms back to 1958 ("spook-tacular"), but
adjectival forms (e.g., "craptacular") only date to the mid-'90s.

I'd guess that the "X-tacular" adjectives were modeled on "X-tastic",
which became a productive formation for US advertisers in the '60s... a
quick scan of Newspaperarchive shows "shoe-tastic" (1966), "carpet-tastic"
(1966), "fang-tastic" (1968), "shag-tastic" (1969), "swim-tastic" (1970),
etc.  (During the NFL players' strike of 1987, David Letterman had a Top
Ten list called "Top 10 Slogans of the Scab NFL"-- the number one slogan
was, "It's scab-tastic!")

But the granddaddy of them all is the obvious blend "fun-tastic":

1939 _Los Angeles Times_ 27 Apr. 13/7 In-a-word description of the Ritz
zanies: Fun-tastic.
1942 _Nevada State Journal_ 27 Oct. 4/4 Fantastic and fun-tastic; manna
for theater-goers who want "something different."
1942 _Nevada State Journal_ 17 Nov. 4/4 Fun-tastic nonsense guaranteed to
tickle your sense of humor.

All three examples come from Jimmie Fidler's syndicated column, "Fidler in

--Ben Zimmer

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