Fictional Materials for OED

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Sun Jan 3 09:55:47 UTC 2010

I have friends who refer to me as being a hobbit because they are troll-sized (average height) in comparison, and they refer to my feet as "hobbit feet" for their size and hirsute nature. Probably too much information, but this fits with the paleoanthropological use in illustrating that the word has come into its own. There is probably an influence by the unacceptability of using terms like dwarf and midget. BB

On Jan 2, 2010, at 7:04 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> What, no _Homo floresiensis_ "hobbits"?
> JL
> On Sat, Jan 2, 2010 at 9:57 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at> wrote:
>> Just to show that there are some instances where the OED includes words
>> whose usage relates to a single book, even without figurative extension, the
>> word "hobbit" is included in the OED.  All of the citations are Tolkienian
>> references.
>> Fred Shapiro
>> ________________________________________
>> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Dave
>> Wilton [dave at WILTON.NET]
>> Sent: Saturday, January 02, 2010 9:44 PM
>> Subject: Re: Fictional Materials for OED
>> I'm not sure that fictional names merit inclusion in a dictionary unless
>> they obtain wider use than in reference to the fictional works in which
>> they
>> originally appear. Otherwise the dictionary would be inundated with such
>> entries. Tolkien alone could probably supply a few hundred, "mithril,"
>> "silmarillion," "Rohirrim" to name a few off the top of my head. (I include
>> "Rohirrim" because why stop at fictional materials? Why not fictional
>> creatures, races, places, etc.?) (I just looked it up, and "mithril" has an
>> OED entry as of 2002. All but one of the citations is either by Tolkien or
>> a
>> reference to LOTR. I'm not sure about the last.) Capturing pop culture
>> terms
>> like this is a really good function for Wikipedia; I'm not sure other
>> reference works should try to compete.
>> "Kryptonite" probably deserves a dictionary entry because it has
>> metaphorical uses beyond the Superman genre, and "unobtainium" has been in
>> widespread use as a jocular name for a supposed element for decades. I
>> don't
>> think the others qualify.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
>> Of
>> Shapiro, Fred
>> Sent: Saturday, January 02, 2010 3:24 PM
>> Subject: Fictional Materials for OED
>> I have previously suggested that OED should have entries for "kryptonite"
>> (Superman), the spice "melange" (Dune) and "ice-nine" (Cat's Cradle).  No
>> one seemed particularly to agree with me, as I remember.
>> I am inspired to return to this topic by noticing that Wikipedia has an
>> article, "List of Fictional Elements, Materials, Isotopes and Atomic
>> Particles."  This list supplies me with some additional candidates:
>> adamantium (Wolverine)
>> carbonite (The Empire Strikes Back)
>> dilithium (Star Trek)
>> After its use in the film Avatar, "unobtanium" may also merit OED
>> inclusion.
>> Fred Shapiro

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