Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Suffixing by -rama, -orama or -arama — how did this begin? I mean words like futurama, foodarama, etc.

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Etymonline to the rescue:

-rama noun suffix meaning "spectacular display or instance of," 1824, abstracted from panorama, ultimately from Greek horama [ὅραμα] "sight."

share|improve this answer
5  
Exactly! Note that the (ho)ra- part comes from horaô, "to see"; and -ma, genitive -matos, is a suffix mostly used to make a noun out of a verb, if I am not mistaken. The correct use of the suffix would be to use -orama, so futurorama, or foodorama... but English usually doesn't listen to correctness, especially not when creating fun words! –  Cerberus Apr 23 '11 at 1:49
    
@Cerberus: There is a "correct" way to add Greek suffixes to English words? Do you have a link or a citation? –  hippietrail Apr 23 '11 at 6:24
1  
@hippietrail: Well it might not matter so much to everyone. Besides, -orama is mostly used with a meaning that doesn't have anything to do with its meaning in Greek anyway. But if one were seriously creating a scientific word with components from foreign languages, generally such components need to be used with their original stem intact, and with the correct connecting vowel if used as a prefix. For example, if you wanted to create a new word à la monopoly, you'd need to know that the root of the first component is mon-, not mono-: monarchy, not monoarchy. Then there is contraction... –  Cerberus Apr 23 '11 at 13:01

Briefly, diorama and panorama were popular in Napoleonic times, if not before, and came into and out of fashion as such words do. Specifically, they enjoyed a vogue after WW2, when film-makers were looking for impressive names for their colour and widescreen films (Colorama, Futurama, Technorama, etc- probably influenced by drama, but not directly connected). The vogue led to many bottle stores, for example, renaming themselves liquoramas to draw in customers, though there is no plausible meaning for this, let alone etymology. Mercifully, the fashion seems to have died away.
(Thanks to The Straight Dope, as referenced above: but their article's too long to quote directly).

share|improve this answer

There's a long article on this on The Straight Dope, here: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/492/where-does-the-suffix-arama-as-in-foodarama-come-from

share|improve this answer
3  
Can you explain the linked article a little more in your own words? Unfortunately, linkrot happens; if this link disappears, future readers won't get any benefit. Thanks. –  Uticensis Apr 23 '11 at 11:56
    
Nice article –  Lelouch Lamperouge Apr 23 '11 at 16:54
    
@Billare--that's a great suggestion. It's quite a long article, but I should take time to summarize it. –  nielsbot Apr 26 '11 at 11:49

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.