A Lesson In Science Diction

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This is a part of Science Diction, a series digging into the scientific origin stories behind our words and language. Find all our stories and previous issues here.

Did you know the word robot was only coined in 1922? And that quark was inspired by Finnegan’s Wake?

Words like these weren’t just plucked from thin air… behind each one is a fascinating origin story. Scientists use words and language just like us, and encoded in the language they use are etymologies, histories, and stories that often stretch back centuries—some even bleeding into the words we use in our everyday life.

[What are you collecting in your cabinet of curiosities?]

You can read these stories in Science Diction, a limited-run series about words and etymology. Johanna Mayer, a self-proclaimed word nerd and digital producer at Science Friday, joins guest host John Dankosky to tell us more about the project. Sign up for the Science Diction newsletter, and read previous issues here.

Segment Guests

Johanna Mayer

Johanna Mayer is a digital producer at Science Friday. When she’s not obsessively checking SciFri’s digital pages, she’s probably baking a fruit pie. Cherry’s her specialty, but she whips up a mean rhubarb streusel as well.

Meet the Producer

About Katie Hiler

Katie Hiler is an assistant producer for Science Friday and the proud mother of two cats, Charleigh and Sadie.

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