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Feb 10, 2014
This week's theme
Words coined in science fiction

This week's words
grok
waldo
tardis
triffid
frankenstein

Stranger in a Strange Land
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Advanced civilizations, intelligent machines, interplanetary travel, and beyond -- science fiction is fascinating. This is fiction based on science, not myths or fairy tales.

The imagination of science fiction has prompted scientists to turn some of the fiction into reality, whether it's artificial satellites orbiting the earth, digital personal assistants answering spoken questions, or doctors transplanting critical organs.

Many everyday terms, like cyberspace, were coined in science fiction. This week we'll see five words that arose in science fiction and have now become part of the English language.

grok

PRONUNCIATION:
(grok)

MEANING:
verb tr.: To understand deeply and intuitively.

ETYMOLOGY:
Coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his science-fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. Earliest documented use: 1961.

NOTES:
In Stranger in a Strange Land, Heinlein describes grok as a Martian word meaning "to drink". That's the literal meaning; however, figuratively it means to understand something in a profound way. To grok something is to be one with it in a way that the observer and the observed become merged.

USAGE:
"Any first-time Apple user immediately groks the nature of the device."
Melvin Bukiet; Me and My Mac; The Chronicle of Higher Education (Washington, DC); Oct 16, 2011.

See more usage examples of grok in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
What is laid down, ordered, factual is never enough to embrace the whole truth: life always spills over the rim of every cup. -Boris Pasternak, poet and novelist (1890-1960))

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