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.

Possible Duplicate:
What does “Japan-lite problems” mean?

I found the word, ‘Obama-lite’ in the headline of the Time magazine article (March 17) , titled “Santo: “We’re Not Just An Obama-Lite.” The article quotes the following remark of Rick Santorum aired on a Missouri radio:

"If we keep winning and doing well and we keep winning the states were supposed to win and upsetting in states and do either very well..., we're going to win the nomination. I have no doubt about that whatsoever. We're the candidate that's energizing folks. We're the candidate that has the best chance of beating Barack Obama.... We're not just an Obama-lite."

As I am unfamiliar with the usage of suffix, -lite, I checked its meanings in dictionaries at hand;

Readers English Japanese dictionary defines -lite as; 1. the suffix used for fossils, minerals, explosives, products. 2.a believer of, or in a person.

www.yourdictionary defines it only as stone: used in the names of minerals, rocks, and fossils, e.g. chrysolite, cryolite.

wikitionary.org defines it simply as “used to form names of rocks and minerals Representing Ancient Greek λίθος (lithos, “stone”).

I don’t think Obama-lite has anything to do with fossils, stones and minerals, nor it does mean Obama-believer, because it’s silly if Santorum said “We're not just an Obama-believer.”

What does Obama-lite mean, and first of all, is “-ite” used here as a suffix to represent for what?

share|improve this question
    
Is this the same idea as when you asked about Japan-lite? –  Matt Эллен Mar 18 '12 at 0:57
1  
What @Matt said. The productive suffix -lite was perhaps overstretched a bit in Japan-lite, but it's the same basic principle. –  FumbleFingers Mar 18 '12 at 1:05
3  
@Yoichi Oishi: If you didn't get it from the other one, it's a fairly common device in recent years to append -lite to some well-known noun (in this case Obama), to make a new "word" that means something like a watered-down version of that noun. So, for example, a cheapish car with some luxury features might be called a Lexus-lite. It's usually used a bit disparagingly. Note that it's a "jokey" spelling of "light" - nothing to do with the "technical" suffixes you found in the dictionary. –  FumbleFingers Mar 18 '12 at 1:10
3  
...I also note Santorum Adviser Calls Mitt Romney 'Barack Obama Lite. Santorum is just claiming that unlike Romney, he's more than just a "lesser imitation of Obama". –  FumbleFingers Mar 18 '12 at 1:16
1  
@Matt Эллен 5: I totally forgot that I had posted a similar question –“What does Japan-lite probrem?” in August last year. A sign of senile amnesia!. I can close this question. But I was puzzled about Santorum’s statement, “We’re not just an Obama-lite” because it’s a matter of course for hard core or “right wing” Republicans like Santorum not to be a light-weighted Obama as I wrote in the above question. But if “Obama-lite” refers to Mitt Romney as FumbleFingers points out, it makes sense, and my question was resolved. –  Yoichi Oishi Mar 18 '12 at 7:22
show 1 more comment

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, aedia λ, Matt Эллен, kiamlaluno, Daniel Mar 19 '12 at 20:52

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

1 Answer

"Light beer" is low alcohol beer.

Miller Lite is the trademark of a low alcohol version of what passes for beer in parts of America.

Something-lite means a dilute or low-performance version of something or someone.

share|improve this answer
    
In this context, it is also a deniable reference to the fact that Mr. Obama counts as "Black" in US terms, which is meaningful to many supporters of Mr. Santorum, who counts as "White". –  John Lawler Mar 18 '12 at 15:07
    
@JohnLawler - don't think so, perhaps a 'pale imitation of Obama'? US politics tends not to get that witty! –  mgb Mar 18 '12 at 17:31
    
Wit is not le mot juste, I fear. Anyhow, like any good metaphor, it works for different people in different ways. –  John Lawler Mar 18 '12 at 17:52
add comment

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