Sunday, 13 April 2014

Bondian words in the dictionary

Wiktionary's definition of 'Bond girl'
In an earlier post, I argued that the word 'Bond girl' ought to be in the dictionary. Easily fulfilling the standard criteria for inclusion for most major dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary, the term has been in use since 1963, it has, as the OED stipulates, attained a level of currency that allows it to be used without the expectation of an immediate explanation of its meaning, and it has been used independently many times in newspapers and literature, on TV and in other media. Remarkably the word has not yet made it to the OED, but Bond girl does now appear in the Wiktionary, along with a number of other Bond-related words.

Two meanings of the word Bond girl are offered in the Wiktionary: 1) “One of the beautiful, seductive young women who appear in James Bond movies”; and in a transferred sense, 2) “A beautiful, seductive young woman.”

If using Wiktionary as their principal reference, Scrabble players (Blofeld included) would not be able to place Bond girl, comprising as it does two words, but they would be able to play Bondiana, which is defined by Wiktionary as “Items relating to the fictional spy James Bond.” Players might also wish to remember the adjective, Bondlike, which means “Characteristic of James Bond.” Curiously, the example of use quoted below the Wiktionary definition – in this case from an edition of Popular Science (“With a host of Bond-like gadgets, the Army's latest peacekeeping machine protects without taking lives.”), the word is hyphenated, which would not be permitted in Scrabble. I think my inclination would be to hyphenate the word, but I'd be in a minority, as these days the trend is to remove hyphens.

The final Bond-related (or is that Bondrelated?) word to appear in the Wiktionary is Bond villain, which describes “An evil mastermind who attempts to take over the world.”

There are some words which I think also deserve a place in the Wiktionary, among them Bondian, Bond song, and Flemingesque. Bondmania (or Bondomania) may have had a chance in the 1960s, but now the word is rarely heard, and only with reference to the public reaction that greeted the release of the films Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. Bondmanship, which dates to 1963, never really caught on, and doesn't appear to have survived the year.

Like its sister project, Wikipedia, the Wiktionary is an open-content resource that depends on its users to contribute and edit entries. It has criteria for inclusion, which are stated to be strictly applied. In any case, I would not disagree that Bond girl and other Bond-related words merit inclusion, being terms that, as the Wiktionary demands, “someone would run across”, are attested through “widespread use, use in a well-known work, or use in permanently recorded media in at least three independent instances spanning at least a year”, and are idiomatic. That Bond girl and other memes have made it to a dictionary is testament to the success of the James Bond phenomenon in popular culture.

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