Fictional Materials for OED

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Sun Jan 3 11:29:20 UTC 2010

On Sat, Jan 02, 2010 at 10:21:13PM -0500, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> It is interesting that, from Star Trek, the OED has entries
> for beam (v.), Klingon (n. and adj.), mind-meld, phaser,
> photon torpedo, prime directive, warp factor, and warp
> speed. Their inclusion may be based on figurative uses
> outside of Star Trek.
> From Star Wars, I see only carbonite and droid. I can
> understand ewok and wookiee not being included, but surely
> "force" in its Lucasian sense should be in OED.

In general, our policy would be to include such terms only if
they are found in figurative use outside of the context of the
original, or if they are so widespread and understood in the
original context that we couldn't reasonably leave them out.
Of the terms mentioned in this thread, I think _kryptonite_ is
the only one which absolutely deserves inclusion.
(_unobtainium_ does as well, but it doesn't fit into the
category because it's not actually an invented term associated
with a single work.) _The Force_ probably does, even though
many of the figurative uses are still allusive (e.g. appearing
in phrases such as "The Force is strong in this one", etc.)

The Star Trek examples (and there are others) are all indeed
used outside of ST.

Of the Tolkien examples mentioned upthread, I think it's very
likely that many of these would not be included if we had to
evaluate them at this point, but since they were in OED2, we
can't remove them. An exception is _hobbit_, which should be

Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society -

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