Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/07/science_fiction_words/

Boffins list sci-fi words which wormed their way into dictionary

Nine words that came from deep space

By Bill Ray

Posted in Bootnotes, 7th April 2009 12:57 GMT

The Oxford University Press has come up with a list of nine words that originated in science fiction, but which have now become part of the language of science.

Robotics is probably the most familiar, but Gas Giant, Zero Gravity and Deep Space are also sci-fi terms co-opted into the real world, according to the OUP blog. We can also thank science fiction authors for Pressure Suit, Virus and Worm (in their IT senses) not to mention Genetic Engineering.

Of course there's a much more extensive list of words that should have remained works of fiction: mobification, blogosphere, millennials and blook leap to mind, though works of fiction generally require words that slip into the prose with less of a bump than any of these examples.

Much is made, generally, of the ability of Science Fiction to predict the future, though such predictions are generally assisted by the scattergun approach. There's an awful lot of science fiction, and by picking and choosing it's quite easy to demonstrate its precognitive ability, or lack thereof, as the argument dictates. For every "robotics" there's a host of minisecs, mediatrons and simstims that didn't make it into the dictionary.

Next week's sees the British National Science Fiction gathering in Bradford, where the great and the bearded will be discussing the RepRap project for self-building machines amongst other things, though hopefully they'll refrain from extending the language for a while. ®