It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
We Will Use WikiWords In The Future
Maybe you should reconst the flavofibes!
In Speculative Fiction
, particularly Twenty Minutes into the Future
, when you invent something new, you create a name for it by slamming two existing words together.
Hard. Letters in the middle are often killed in the process.
Admittedly, this is how a lot of real words get formed, but for full SciFi
(see what we did there
!) credit, the combination should sound grating, unnatural, and futuristic. Also, when you create real words this way, you usually do it by combining roots which aren't complete words (at least in English) to begin with. Typically a noun and an adjective. (See Wikipedia:Portmanteau
More often than not, the resulting word ends up with internal capitalization
, aka CamelCase
, or BiCapitalization
). This has bled over to the real world, but is currently limited almost entirely to computer and Internet related phenomena. Naturally, it plays hell when trying to talk about them on this website.
This convention is, of course, perfectly natural in languages where you make new words that way as a matter of course, such as German (but note that German doesn't use CamelCase) or Japanese (see Portmanteau Series Nickname
). As evidenced by the popularity of terms like Blogosphere
(or arguably Blog
, for that matter) and Pod Cast
, as well as the long list of Real Life
examples below, this trope is definitely Truth in Television
in English as well, though not to the point where the entire language is replaced by such words (yet).
See also Tropemanteau
, and Noun Verber
. Compare with New Speak
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Most of the main mecha in Yuusha-Oh GaoGaiGar. And its other forms and versions. And all of the Dragon Twins, and their combined forms.
- The title of the anime series Robotech.
- In Eureka Seven the most powerful LFO of the opposing faction is theEnd, which is officially spelt that way.
- Steins;Gate has a few of these. The Phone Microwave (Name subject to change) is a device which, as it can be guessed, is the offspring of a cellphone and a microwave oven; it has the peculiar property of being able to send e-mail messages to the past. Such E-mails are called D-mails. That's short for De Lorean mails; you can realize though that they're E-mails that go to the past after all, and D comes right before E.
- Parodied in the film Demolition Man, where "murder" has evolved to "MurderDeathKill".
- Used to annoying effect in the short-story-turned-movie Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. The use of words like "Ident", "Medico", and "FlavoFibes" quickly drives Servo up the WallStructSurface.
- The title characters of the satire Gayniggers From Outer Space.
- RoboCop. The title itself is a WikiWord.
- The first use of this trope is probably in 1984, where it was a facet of New Speak —the shorter and more unnatural the word, the less chance you have to consider its implications. Orwell based this on words like Comintern and Gestapo used by the totalitarian regimes in the USSR and Nazi Germany respectively. It's just a normal way the new words are made in Russian or German, but the totalitarian implications do work.
- This Time of Darkness by H. M. Hoover gets bonus points for mangling the spelling. For example, it has the Vu-Screen.
- Jasper Fforde of Thursday Next fame acknowledges that he loves using Wiki Words.
- Scott Westerfield's Uglies series has all sorts of freeze-dried foods and such with Wiki Word names; particularly notable was SpagBol. 'Spaghetti bolognese' was apparently too hard for the residents of a dystopia to say. It's a standard UK colloquialism.
- L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth uses a hyphenated variant of the trope; e.g. "breathe-gas", "man-animals", "picto-cameras".
- "Breathe-gas" is somewhat justified by the need to distinguish between regular air and the radically different gas mix the Psychlos use. The rest... not so much.
- S. L. Viehl's Star Doc series is packed with words like this, starting right at the title. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason behind which words use CamelCase and which don't, but at least the series is consistent about each once a word is invented. One can probably blame the
DraeneiExpys Jorenians, for the most part: They're not the only ones at fault, but they're the most egregious offenders.
- Neuromancer (and the other novels and short stories in the Sprawl Trilogy) have a bit of this with 'Simstim' and a few other things. Usually done without the CamelCase though.
- Margaret Atwood's Oryxand Crake has plenty of respelled Wiki Words for just about everything: Corporations (AnooYoo), products (Happicuppa), new animals (pigoons, rakunks), and the CorpSeCorps (Corporation security).
- Gem-X, by Nicky Singer, is made of these.
- Snow Crash has some nice ones. "Loglo": the color produced by a cluster of illuminated logos (the precise shade tells you whether you're in a low-rent neighborhood with reds and yellows, or a more up-scale place with greens - think McDonald's vs. Starbucks.) "Franchulate" is a franchise operation that has extraterritoriality, like a consulate. And who could forget "The Deliverator"?
- Used to some extent in Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos. The TechnoCore, the WorldWeb, and the AllThing being the most notable examples.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga has a fair number, both in use by the general population (holovid, wristcom, comconsole), and more specific to a particular region or derived from military contractions (ImpSec, ImpMil). Word of God says that the working title for A Civil Campaign was ImpWed.
- In Andrey Livadniy's The History of the Galaxy, Space Navy titles are similar to modern-day ones but with the prefix "Galact" (e.g. GalactCaptain). Of course, they only use the prefix during formal introductions and afterwards tend to drop it.
- Dave Barry Slept Here notes the tendency of banks to change their names to things like "InterContiBankAmeriTransWestSouthNorthCorp."
Live Action TV
- Everything in Max Headroom had a name like this: Blipvert, NeuroStim, GroBag, CredStick, etc. Blipvert and neurostim are words now, and Grobag is a brand of infant sleepwear. They were on to something.
- Mocked in Stargate Atlantis, when Rodney dubs the craft that would become known as a Puddle Jumper a "GateShip", and is instantly told, "Okay, you don't get to name things anymore." In an alternate timeline, McKay does get to name it GateShip, mainly to set up a 'GS-1' joke. And the Asurans call them GateShips.
- Angel: This one is easily missed because you rarely hear the original in the show, but the evil law firm "Wolfram & Hart" counts under this trope as the company is named after the three founding demon members, each of them having the name of an animal; The Wolf, The Ram and The Hart.
- British comedy duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore parodied the plethora of compound-word vehicle titles of futuristic Supermarionation shows from the '60s (Thunderbirds, Stingray, Supercar, Fireball XL-5) with a 7-minute sketch called SuperThunderStingCar. One running gag was the tendency of the characters to jumble or otherwise mess up the syllables in the name while reciting it.
- The military of the Earth Alliance in Babylon 5 is called EarthForce. The President's ship is called EarthForce One. There's also PsiCorps, EarthDome, and EarthGov. The Earth Alliance as a whole was fond of this.
- The Earth Gov of the 28th century seems to have kept the tradition alive, with vaguely Orwellian terms like "goodfacts" (i.e. propaganda), as opposed to "truefacts."
- The British power metal band DragonForce spells their name this way. Their original name was DragonHeart. Especially frustrating on this site as Dragon Force (which is how the band name shows up without the NotAWikiWord markup) is a Sega Saturn game.
- Brave Saint Saturn.
- The short-lived jazz-rock ensemble makeShift:shelter.
- Soundgarden, itself a portmanteau name, has the albums Badmotorfinger and Superunknown (the latter originated from Chris Cornell reading "Superclown" wrong, the former's a joke/reference to "Bad Motor Scooter" by Montrose).
- Liz Phair, with albums whitechocolatespaceegg and Comeandgetit.
- Outkast likes this trope. Their albums Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and ATLiens are two of the most obvious examples.
- A very early episode of Dead Ringers skewered this one by having a Radio 4 newsreader declare that the proposed merger of Cunard and Aer Lingus had been abandoned.
- FedCom. WarShip. ComStar. JumpShip. MechWarrior. DropShip. BattleMech. BattleTech.
- The Clans, although shunning contractions, have done this to other words. Quiaff?
- Likewise: StarLot. LightRaider. WordRune. EdenAgain. Dragon Raid.
- Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition is starting to head in this direction with its use of compound names for classes and monsters (most recently the Shardmind race and the Battlemind and Runepriest classes from PHB 3), much to the annoyance of those who prefer simpler and more resonant naming conventions. The battlemind is known as a "fightbrain" on RPGnet.
- The runepriest existed in prior editions, and numerous other games such as Warhammer (though it was two words in 40k).
- Paranoia has a number of these, such as IntSec (Internal Security) and MemoMax (the process that transfers a dead citizen's memories to his next-of-clone). Paranoia has to have these — it draws on 1984 among other works.
- In BIONICLE, the Le-Matoran of Mata Nui/Metru Nui use a slang system called treespeak/chutespeak based on Wiki Words. It is mentioned, in-universe, to be irritating and hard to understand by damn near everyone, especially when combined with their Motor Mouth tendencies. This even goes for the writer of the series, who used every excuse he could to get out of writing it.
- Mega Man Legends and Mega Man Battle Network have been using the spelling "MegaMan" instead. This is an interesting compromise with the eternal misspelling "Megaman". More to the point, the BattleChips and other technological whatsits of the latter series had Wiki Word names too: HiCannon, AirShot, NoBeam, and PoisFace, for example. That last one is an abbreviation for Poison Face, by the way. Apparently we will still have filename length limits in the future also.
- In Little King's Story, the king gets a "fanlet" from a peasant which reads:
King Fan Club #5 "G"
: Man, you always worhar! "Worhar" is short for "work hard." And since you're a worhar king, you need to chill! I'm rootin' for ya! Loktar! Bewbies!
- Earlier games in general usually had engines that limited the number of text within certain spaces. For example in an early SNES RPG would have something like 'Fire Sword' would have it spelled as 'FireSwrd' or 'F.Swrd'. Although this is something of an inverse since this is now pretty much obsolete in games (as memory and text size increased) except maybe a retro-styled or homebrew game.
- Aquanox, besides the title (from Gratuitous Latin for "water" and "night", respectively), has a Mega Corp. named EnTrOx, which stands for "Energy, Transportation, and Oxygen", describing their three main products and services. Of course, the game is quick to point out that no one would actually breathe oxygen that deep underwater, as it becomes toxic at this pressure. Instead, they provide a compound named Helium 17, which allows one to breathe normally at the bottom of the ocean without sounding like a chipmunk. Then again, EnTrHe doesn't quite have the same ring to it.
- The real life breathing gas mixtures Trimix (helium/nitrogen/oxygen) and Heliox (helium/oxygen only) are likewise examples of the trope.
- Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden: Save Vidcon? Yeah/Nah
- Tachyon: The Fringe has a Mega Corp. named GalSpan, which is short for the Galactic Spanning Corporation. Interesting in that the name reveals absolutely nothing about what they do.
- The MechWarrior mech simulator series, set in the BattleTech universe, uses many of the same Wiki Words.
- The world of Mass Effect has a few, like "medi-gel", "omni-gel", "eezo" and company names such as "ExoGeni"
- This is pretty common in Norwegian. For instance, "breakfast cereal" is "breakfastcereal": frokostblanding. Although, since Norwegian is technically made up from Danish and whatever old Norwegian remnants they can find and they have to make up new words somehow...
- See also the SCUBA breathing gas mixtures Trimix (helium/nitrogen/oxygen) and Heliox (helium/oxygen only) are likewise examples of the trope.
- Since Lojban only has 1300 or so root words, and only about 1000 gismu, combination is pretty much necessary to say anything of complexity. In fact the name itself is a shortened combination of logji (logic) and bangu (language).
- In Japanese, forming words like this is perfectly normal. They are built from combinations of Japanese and English words. For example, the Japanese word for "PC" is "paso-kon", an abbreviation of "personal computer" pronounced using standard Japanese phonemes. This extends even to names, especially of celebrities. Jimi Hendrix, for example, is something like JimiHen.
- Specifically they form words of 4 moraic units as in pa-so-ko-n=Personal computer, ji-mi-he-n=Jimi Hendrix. Also 'lo-li-ko-n'=Lolita Complex, ko-n-bi-ni=Convenience Store, or i-ra-su-to=Illustration.
- This is also fairly common among Swedish computer geeks, as a lot of computer terms don't have an official translation and those that do end up sounding really, really silly. These terms are sometimes combined with Swedish words to form new words, that also end up sounding fairly silly, though less so than actual translations. Usually.
- Can also happen in German - German grammar allows one to stick any two nouns together to form a new word, and there are quite a few words that have been "imported" from other languages. The result: stuff like "Computerfabrik", "Spitzenperformance" or "Worst-Case-Analyse". Sometimes two compound words even get stuck together to form a huge word.
- German also has lots of prefixes that can be added to change the meaning of things, including the above words created by sticking two nouns together. Mark Twain wrote a rather fantastic essay about this, and some of the other 'unusual' aspects of the language. There's a copy of it here, for anyone who's curious.
- This is a rather popular child's game in Germany. You start with a Wiki Word, say, Wiki Word. The next player has to find (or make up a plausible) Wiki Word that begins with the last part of the first,in this case word-counter. If you have good or very creative players it can go on for hours.
- French gamers tend to concentrate the words "Jeux vidéos" into "Jivés" (From JV), also, Dessins Animés ("Cartoons") have usually called "Déhas" (DA) and Bandes Dessinées are called "Bédés". Except for BD/Bédés, most words are used only orally and never in any written forms outside message boards.
- In Russian, such words usually arise in military slang or bureaucrat-speak. These words usually have stresses on both of their parts to point to their structure.
- Bureaucratic WikiWords usually arise from abbreviations: "замдекана" (zamdekana - Vice-Dean) or "главбух" (glavbukh - chief accountant). In Soviet times, this was widely adopted for naming various ministries and organizations (e.g. Comintern for Communist International) and is also used today for large, preferably state-owned companies like Gazprom ("газовая прмышленность" (gazovaya promyshlennost) means gas industry).
- Various intitutions often had their names shortened in wikiword fashon, for example, "физфак" (phisfac - Department of Physics (within a university)) or "колхоз" (kolkhoz - collective farm). Surely, such names became a target for jokes, when they got overly long.
- Military slang is another staple of Russian wikiwords. It dug in after the revolution, when former regime military ranks were abolished and commanders (remember, Soviet Army didn't have officers before 1943) went with ranks like "platoon commander" or "military engineer, 1st rank". Please note that it was a fashion of revolutionary times to abbreviate everything, and the military was leading the way. Of course, these ranks were wikiworded into something like "комвзвода" (komvzvoda - platoon commander) or "военлет" (voenlet - military pilot). After 1943 more traditional ranks were reintroduced, but the habit of abbreviating stuck, so words like "замкомвзвода" (zamkomvzvoda - deputy platoon leader) are still about.
- Then there is a semi-apocryphal revolutionary-time "замкомпоморде(л)" (zamkompomordel - Commander-in-Chief's deputy for naval affairs) which sounds exactly like "(Being hit) in (your) face with a padlock".
- This is Older Than They Think. The Russian word for "thank you" is "spasibo" (спасибо), which comes from the Old Slavic phrase "съпаси богъ" meaning "God save (you)". Eventually, it was merged into one and the "g" sound was dropped.
- So is the word for "please". It is "pozhaluysta" (пожалуйста), coming from "pozhaluy, stariy" ("пожалуй, старый"), roughly translatable as "if you would, elder one".
- The Russian words for "battleship" (which in English is also a wiki-word) and "destroyer" are "linkor" (линкор) and "esminets" (эсминец), respectively. "Linkor" is actually short for "lineyniy korabl'", which means "ship-of-the-line". "Esminets" is short for "eskadryonniy minonosets", meaning "squadron minecarrier" (as torpedoes were originally called "self-propelled mines" in Russian). Of course, "minonosets" also qualifies as a wiki-word.
- Internet. Short for Internetwork.
- This is a favorite of many military organizations worldwide; with the US military being especially fond of this trope. When military-jargon coinages are not actual acronyms, they're typically this, freqently with the inter-capitalization as well. Some examples are "milspec" (military specification, used for equipment that meets military standards), "OpHour" (Operational Hour, the time spent on an actual operation, excluding support activities), "Elint" (Electronic Intelligence), and "medevac" (Medical Evacuation).
- Some apparently important company is named PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Gah. Note that the name is not PriceWaterhouseCoopers or Pricewaterhousecoopers but PricewaterhouseCoopers.
- That one almost makes sense: it was founded by the merger of apparently important company Price Waterhouse with apparently important company Coopers & Lybrand, and the "waterhouse" is in lowercase presumably to indicate that it wasn't a separate firm at the time of the merger.
- PwC is the world's largest professional services firm; their main businesses are financial statement auditing, tax, and consulting. They're best know to the public as the people who ensure that Academy Award votes are counted accurately. The accounting industry is packed with examples of WikiWords or Long List titles, as accounting firms often grow more through acquisition than by simply picking up customers. Consider the naming history of a slightly smaller audit/tax/advisory firm, KPMG. KPMG spun off its consulting business in the wake of Enron's collapse, and the new firm chose the name BearingPoint. Unlike many examples shown here, this was not a branding decision done to appease the owners of an assimilated company; this was a conscious decision.
- In the realm of 'might-have-been': TWA once considered buying and merging in Texas Air.
- This very page has attracted ads for Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus, BookSurge, and BabelGum
- The publishing company Random House occasionally uses the form RandomHouse. Likewise, HarperCollins is one word.note Could be worse; they used to be HarperCollinsPublishers (yes, the italics are part of it).
- Indeed, many companies formed by mergers now have names that look like multiple rear-end pileups of words. ExxonMobil and GlaxoSmithKlinenote to name but two. To the extent that people have now started doing it with names that aren't in CamelCase, just because they expect it. Eurostar being written as EuroStar is one that is used in everyday life a lot.
- At some point the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team officially took on "D-Backs" as a alternative naming. The gothic font they used on their uniforms further renamed them the O-Backs.
- tvtropes itself is having this effect, with more readers and editors of the site casually referencing trope names InCamelCase, which in literary (pop culture) discussions are incredibly more recognized as tvtropes terms. tvtropes variations of trope names are also becoming more recognizable: After reading a lot of tvtropes, what sounds more natural — the traditional literary term Bathos, or Narm?
- In Finland, the official name for under-50cc scooters are officially called "mopo" (short of motored bicycle). Also, compound words are extremely common. The German/English name for them is "Moped", also a contraction.
- Miami University's athletic teams are known as the RedHawks, rather than the Red Hawks. Note that this is not that Miami; the major university located there is called "University of Miami", and their teams are the Hurricanes. This is the university located in Ohio.
- Comcast's Televisiphonernetting.
- L. Ron Hubbard (creator of Scientology and author of Battlefield Earth) idolized the military and incorporated a lot of Wiki Words into "Scientologese" such as IntBase (International Base, one of many headquarters) and SecCheck (Security Check, a 200-question punishment).
- The EyeToy
- In Canada, the government-mandated Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was the first to broadcast radio and television signals in the country; as such, it earned the name "The Mother Corporation," usually reduced to "The MotherCorp."
- Some everyday English words are a product of this trope being Older Than They Think. This becomes obvious when you read literature old enough to use phrasings like "to-morrow".
- Just go and look at a catalog for construction supplies. Things like HardiBacker and StrongStik are all over.
- Nabisco, makers of cookies and other crunchy baked goods, was originally the National Biscuit Company.
- Look at the Java programming language. Class names are written in camel case (just like WikiWords). Combine this with the tendency to make names (especially those of exceptions) descriptive in order to recognize the error, it leads to stuff like ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException.
- This can be especially annoying since Java is case-sensitive. So typing "ArrayindexOutofBoundsException" will get you an error of the "what the hell is this?" kind.
- This is how Hungarian words are made.
- FedEx was originally "Federal Express" (for its air delivery services) from 1973 to 2000. The WikiWord seems to have come with their incorporation and absorption of other delivery service companies.
- Email, anyone?
- For Apple, the iPad, iPhone, iMac, and iPod.
- It originally meant "Internet-Ready", referring to the original iMac ("Internet-Ready Mac") being pre-installed with a free internet suite and phone modem, and being pre-configured to use a phone-line for internet access. The idea was that you could take it out the box, connect it to your phone line, and immediately access the internet. This lead to other iThings like the (also internet-ready) iBook or iTunes, and by the time Apple was to release a music player, the 'i' prefix had already come to mean 'Concerning apple products or services' rather than 'Internet Ready'.
- The trope is Older Than They Think when applied to the names of American oil companies. Many of them were (and in a few cases, still are) marketed under a name that combined the formal name of the corporation. Conoco was originally named for the Continental Oil Company. There were also Amoco (American Oil Company), Utoco (Utah Oil Company) and Texaco (The Texas Company), among others.