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Sci-Fi Name Buzzwords

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Ship breaks down.
Rick: Oh, great.
Morty: Oh boy. What's wrong, Rick? Is it the quantum carburetor or something?
Rick: "Quantum carburetor"? Jesus Morty, you can't just add a s-*burp* sci-fi word to a car word and hope it means something. Huh.. looks like something's wrong with the microverse-battery.

Out of the confusing twists and turns of Techno Babble and Expo Speak come the Sci-Fi Name Buzzwords. These are short word components that can be clicked onto an existing word portmanteau style to make it sound more sciencey.

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These tend to rise and fall in favor over time. Using one from a different era can give your technology a retro, period feel. Occurs frequently in Steam Punk, based on the perception that it was common to name things using Latin compound words, i.e. quadro-velocipede, electro-fulminator (both from Legend). This was actually a feature of Georgian scientific culture, which is what Lovecraft was imitating.

Tack on more than two, and you're off in parody land.

A Super Trope to SpaceX, Photoprotoneutron Torpedo.


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Examples

  • General
    • mechano- (early 20th century)
    • electro- (1910 or so)
    • morpho-
    • dyna-
    • gravi-
    • robo- (since the 1920s)
    • atomic (particularly during the 1950s)
    • cyber- (relatively new, since the 1960's)
    • compu- (predates cyber-)
    • neuro-
    • cyclo-
    • synchro-
    • turbo-
    • meta- (lit. "above", colloquially "beyond" or "about/to itself")
    • -tron
    • -tor
    • -ite (for minerals/ores)
    • -ium (for elements)
    • e-
    • i- (and it must always be lowercase i, then capital, eg iCarly)
    • -oid (like, but not quite the same, e.g. humanoid, jokeoid)
    • -izer (mostly for ray guns)
    • -inator
    • matrix
    • fusion (possibly used in conjunction with "core" and/or "crystallic". Or if something goes wrong, the words "reactor", "self-destruct" and/or "meltdown")
  • SI scale units
    • macro- (big)
    • mega- (millions)
    • giga- (billions)
    • tera- (trillions)
    • peta- (...really big!)
    • micro- (small)
    • nano- (even smaller, see Nanomachines)
    • pico- (smaller still)
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    • femto- (really small)
  • Particles
    • atomic (in The '50s, everything was atomic)
    • nuclear
    • nucleo-
    • quantum
    • photon
    • proton
    • neutron
    • electron
    • molecular
    • positron
    • tachyon
    • lambda
    • muon
    • ion
    • particle (used unqualified)
  • Beams
    • laser
      • graser (like a laser, but with gamma rays!)
      • maser (like a laser, but with microwaves!note )
      • uvaser (Like a laser, but it'll cause instant terminal sunburn!)
      • iraser (Like a laser, but in infrared!)
      • xaser (blah, blah, blah, x-rays!)
    • taser
    • phaser
    • blazer
    • stazer
    • bananafanafofaser
    • Gauss
  • Outer Space
    • space-
      • In his 1976 how-to-write-SF article "Living the future: You are what you eat!", Gardner Dozois gave a good tirade that culminated with this (cue the author's Sarcasm Mode):
      "Well, after all, science fiction is pretty easy to write, isn't it? It's just a matter of using fancy names — just change the names, apply a thin layer of technologese and jargon, right? Say 'helicar' instead of car, 'helipad' instead of driveway, 'tri-vid' instead of television, 'feelies' (or 'smellies,' or 'grabbies') instead of movies. Better still, use the word 'space' as a prefix for everything: spacesuit, spacegun, spacehelmet, spacehouse, spacedog, spacecow. ... Right? Just change the names and you can write a confession-magazine love story, a cowboy story, a gothic, or a nurse novel, and sell it as science fiction. Right?"
    • -space (Hyperspace, Slipspace, Subspace...)
    • star
    • galactic/intergalactic
    • vortex
    • astro-
    • cosmo-
    • hyper-
    • warp
    • phase
    • (sub)orbit(al)
    • planetary/interplanetary
    • stellar/interstellar
    • flux
    • drive (NASA spacecraft engines are called "engines." You never hear of a 747 powered by a "jet drive", do you?)
    • (function or location) node
  • Steampunk
    • apparatus
    • pneumatic
    • gyro-
    • aether
    • magna- or magneto-
    • -graph

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