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A.Word.A.Day--China syndrome

Pronunciation RealAudio

China syndrome (CHY-nuh SIN-drom) noun

A hypothetical sequence of events in which meltdown at an out-of-control nuclear reactor could cause the molten core to go deeply through the earth.

[From the fanciful idea of a catastrophic nuclear accident in the US resulting in its superheated core sinking in the earth, melting a hole all the way to the other side -- to China.]

Popular usage indicates the term is in the process of being redefined. Nowadays, it's often used to refer to the effects of the huge and growing Chinese economy in the global marketplace.

"But the biggest concern for investors is that the China syndrome melt-up will flare out as over-investment leads to over-capacity."
William Hanley; Danger in New China syndrome: Red-hot Economy Triggering a Global Chain Reaction; National Post (Canada); Jan 23, 2004.

"You must learn to enforce breaks in your thought, or else risk a China syndrome of the mind -- thoughts breeding thoughts breeding energy and heat."
Joe Heffron; Old Way; Knot Magazine (Boulder, Colorado); May 20, 2004.

This week's theme: Toponyms or words derived from place names

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