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I'm translating some products description from Japanese to English. The product in question is characterized by its compactness and portability. In Japanese, they use the word ドロン (doron), that seems to describe the sudden appearance of a ninja in a somewhat onomatopoeic way, to show how easy it is to lay the product for its use. I would like to keep the idea of the ninja, due to the design of the banners and because the product is Japanese, that is why I searched for words for sudden appearance and found this post:

Word for "to appear suddenly"?

The accepted answer to that question was “materialize” and I did use this word in one instance of “doron”, but another answer was “shazam”. “Shazam”, according to Merriam-Webster is: used to indicate an instantaneous transformation or appearance. This word goes really well with the context of the product, but I am not sure if the fact that its origin is the word from a DC comic would raise unexpected connotations.

Would you say that “shazam” could be used to describe what a ninja does or is it too deeply connected to superheroes?

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    Although Shazam doesn't appear to be a registered trademark (possily because of the comicbook usage), there are definitely other connotations.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 8:46
  • @AndrewLeach what connotations would you say are more prominent?
    – Alina
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 8:49
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    English has the exclamation "presto!" which may work for you.
    – GEdgar
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 10:25
  • Can you give a sentence of how you'd like it? 'Shazam' is only an interjection for me, and would sound strange as an adjective or verb.
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 13:54

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Grammatically, you definitely could use "shazam" as a verb for the action of a ninja appearing. At the same time, to the average native English speaker, it probably will sound "creative," because as you noted, it already has a strong connection to DC comics. "Shazam" is usually considered a DC character's superhero name, and also is that hero's catchphrase. So it's atypical to see the word as a verb in a sentence unrelated to the DC hero, even though it would be grammatical.

It's ultimately context-dependent on your product, how much of an association you are ok with. Having a creative word usage can intrigue your audience, catch their attention, and make them remember a product more. At the same time, sometimes unexpected allusions take the focus off your product and on to something else (the DC character).

A word I more associate with ninjas is "bamf" or "bampf," but I mention this one as one to avoid, because of association to the hero Nightcrawler from the other big comic brand - Marvel.

Some non-comic book related ideas:

The ninja appeared.
The ninja vanished.
Like teleportation, the ninja was there.
Poof! There is the ninja.

Actually, "poof" is really very close to "shazam". Possibly that instead, and then you take out the worry of comic book references?

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  • Is this a joke? "Poof" has a lot of other connotations. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poof
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 12:57
  • @StuartF 'Poof' is only an onomatopoeia for the appearance of a puff of smoke in the US.
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 13:56
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    @StuartF Yes, I was thinking of the term "poof" in the the usage of the onomatopoeia, as Mitch mentions. My language background is American English from the NW in the United States. I have heard of the term "poof" used as a derogatory reference to homosexuality, but that meaning is not in common conversational usage at present.
    – wanderling
    Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 18:01
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The OED is helpful. Note the 1964 quotation in which "Shazam" is used in an advert.

shazam, int.

Etymology: Invented word: see quots. 1940, 1976.

Children's slang.

A ‘magic’ word used like ‘abracadabra’ or ‘presto’ to introduce an extraordinary deed or story.

1940 Whiz Comics No. 2 5 ‘Speak my name!’ ‘Shazam!’..As Billy speaks the magic word he becomes Captain Marvel.

1964 Playboy May 63 (advt) Shazam!

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