In "The Star Fraction" by Ken MacLeod, a Scottish science fiction author, a couple walks through a street and past a "trodie". The novel is set in Britain, so it may be a British expression. The street is in a future London.

Full sentence:

"Jordan took her elbow and ostentatiously steered her past the trodie collapsed in the doorway of a Help the Waged charity shop."

Googling the expression didn't help. I can't find any reference to it in Cambridge.

It is the only occurence in the book (Kindle Edition) and after the scene there is no further reference to the word. It's not crucial to the plot, I'm just curious what it means.

  • 1
    If it is British, it has certainly passed me by all my life. Never heard of it, I'm afraid.
    – WS2
    May 6, 2016 at 8:26
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    @ws2 It may be Scottish, since the author is a Scotsman. May 6, 2016 at 8:46
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    Given that the book is Science Fiction, and set in a version of Britain rather than Britain as it is (as far as I can gather online), it is possible that the author has invented his own slang. I would suggest that finding online forums where the novel is being discussed might yield the best results.
    – Spagirl
    May 6, 2016 at 9:16
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    I've just sent the Autor a Tweet, maybe he'll explain. May 6, 2016 at 9:26
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    I suspect this should be another query to @KenMacLeod, but I'll take a guess that the dark-humored joke here is that in this version of Britain having a job which only pays wages (without other benefits, such as health care, and I don't know what all else) leaves the recipients of those wages too poor to afford many of the basics of life, let alone the luxuries. I guess I'm kind of thinking of something along the lines of the Pohl/Kornbluth collaboration "The Space Merchants" - which, by the by, seems to be more and more prophetic as time passes. May 7, 2016 at 2:31

3 Answers 3


It's a word I made up! It's for someone who habitually electrically stimulates the brain's pleasure centres via an implanted electrode. (Like 'wirehead' in some stories by Larry Niven.)

  • 44
    I love it when his happens on StackExchange. I'm very glad @user99572isfine contacted you on Twitter and you took the time and effort to respond here. What could be more authoritative? Thank you.
    – Dan Bron
    May 6, 2016 at 12:33
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    Ahh... 'trode being short for electrode. Therefore the pronounciation would rhyme with toadie and not toddy. May 6, 2016 at 16:30
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    Lolz, awesome moment of the day. Welcome to the site, Sir. May 6, 2016 at 18:01
  • 29
    Thanks for your answer, but do you have a source?
    – BruceWayne
    May 6, 2016 at 21:08
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    @T.E.D. eh? twitter.com/amendlocke/status/728520953462988800 May 9, 2016 at 10:17

It isn't a word in normal use; clearly invented to add some 'local colour' to the book. If I had to guess, I would say that the unconscious down-and-outs in this (Scottish?) street have overdosed not on Special Brew but on electric current passed through their electrodes.

  • 4
    Might be useful to explain that 'Special Brew' is a brand of cheap-ish, strong, lager and that it is the archetypal beverage of street drinkers in the UK.
    – Spagirl
    May 6, 2016 at 9:30
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    Wow, three hours before the author, nice... May 6, 2016 at 19:39
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    "...the unconscious down-and-outs in this (Scottish?) street have overdosed not on Irn-Bru but on electric current...". Fixed that for you. ;)
    – Dɑvïd
    May 8, 2016 at 14:28
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    @Davïd: The only way Irn-Bru can cause you to pass out is by hitting you on the head (since everyone knows it's made from girders) May 8, 2016 at 18:40

The sentence is:

Jordan took her elbow and ostentatiously steered her past a trodie who'd collapsed in the doorway of a Help the Waged charity shop.

From the context, my only guess is a word built on the past form (trod) of tread, a person who walked along waiting for charity and just fell here.

Side note: at first I though a letter was missing. "Artrodie" is an old word referring to a type of joint or articulation (in the elbow context).

  • That makes sense. May 6, 2016 at 9:28
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    @user 99572 is fine I am happy to have a new book in my reading list May 6, 2016 at 9:38

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