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Oct 7, 2020
This week’s theme
Words coined after mythical creatures

This week’s words
unicorn
bunyip
gremlin
snark
Bigfoot

gremlin
A WWII industrial safety poster
Image: NARA / Wikimedia

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

gremlin

PRONUNCIATION:
(GREM-lin)

MEANING:
noun: A source of trouble, especially problems of technical nature.

ETYMOLOGY:
Of uncertain origin. Perhaps from an alteration of the word goblin or from Irish gruaimin (a gloomy person). Earliest documented use: 1929.

NOTES:
Originally, the word gremlin was Royal Air Force slang for a low-level employee. From there it evolved to refer to a mythical creature responsible for problems in aircraft. The word was popularized by the novelist Roald Dahl, a former fighter pilot with the RAF, when he published his children’s book The Gremlins in 1943. It’s not certain how the term was coined.

USAGE:
“Nobody who has watched the virtual assemblies could hail them as a success, troubled as they have been with technological gremlins.”
John Ivison; Time to Cancel the “Morning Show”; The Vancouver Sun (Canada); May 22, 2020.

See more usage examples of gremlin in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field. -Niels Bohr, physicist, Nobel laureate (7 Oct 1885-1962)

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