Oscar

Detail of OED - oscar

 

The word Oscar may make you think of an old uncle, or maybe of gold statues, expensive dresses and weeping film stars. The Academy Awards, granted every year to Hollywood glitterati, first became known as Oscars, when the librarian of the Academy of Motion Pictures claimed the golden statuettes reminded her of her cousin Oscar. We know about the origin of the word, but questions remain about how and why it was adopted by a wider community, and the means by which the word was diffused. It seems likely that it was spread through the media - newspapers, magazines and radio.

As for the appeal of the word over Academy Award , it is hard to know beyond speculation, though we do know that the Academy used Oscar as an official designation for the award from 1939. Is there a principle by which a shorter more concrete word is sometimes preferred to a longer word?

Note the extension of oscar into other contexts, reinforcing the sense that the word is firmly entrenched in the language – e.g. “Pedro Almodovar's Oscar-winning film Everything about my Mother .”


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