Once -tastic, now -astic

A recent ad for Daedalus books, spotted in the latest issue of Harper’s magazine, and no doubt in other bookish publications:

The libfix -tastic, extracted from fantastic, has here been whittled down a bit further to -astic and tacked onto daedalus. (daedalustastic would have been possible, but daedalusastic is shorter and neater.)

On the company, from Wikipedia:

Daedalus Books is an independent seller of books, music, and video founded in 1980. While it also sells new titles, Daedalus Books’ specialty is the remaindered book. Its philosophy is to keep bestsellers, classics, and overlooked gems available to the reading public.

Background on the libfix, starting with a 1/21/05 posting by Ben Zimmer on ADS-L:

Grant Barrett has a new DTWW [Double-Tongued Word Wrestler] entry for the suffix “-tacular”. Grant found cites for nominal forms back to 1958 (“spook-tacular”), but adjectival forms (e.g., “craptacular”) only date to the mid-’90s.

I’d guess that the “X-tacular” adjectives were modeled on “X-tastic”, which became a productive formation for US advertisers in the ’60s… a quick scan of Newspaperarchive shows “shoe-tastic” (1966), “carpet-tastic” (1966), “fang-tastic” (1968), “shag-tastic” (1969), “swim-tastic” (1970), etc. (During the NFL players’ strike of 1987, David Letterman had a Top Ten list called “Top 10 Slogans of the Scab NFL”– the number one slogan was, “It’s scab-tastic!”).

But the granddaddy of them all is the obvious blend [i.e., portmanteau] “fun-tastic”:

1939 Los Angeles Times 27 Apr. 13/7 In-a-word description of the Ritz zanies: Fun-tastic.

1942 Nevada State Journal 27 Oct. 4/4 Fantastic and fun-tastic; manna for theater-goers who want “something different.”

1942 Nevada State Journal 17 Nov. 4/4 Fun-tastic nonsense guaranteed to tickle your sense of humor.

All three examples come from Jimmie Fidler’s syndicated column, “Fidler in Hollywood”.

On this blog, in a 12/27/08 posting (with the relevant items boldfaced here:

The appearance of dicktionary in the product description reminded me of another family of portmanteau words: cocktacular, cocktastic, cockalicious; dicktacular, dicktastic, dickalicious (cock / dick + spectacular / fantastic / delicious). All are in the Urban Dictionary. Some of them have uses related to sex, but mostly they seem to be generically positive adjectives (with cock or dick in there purely as attention-getters).

And in a 6/21/11 posting:

Awesometastic looks like awesome with the libfix -tastic (though most of the -tastic examples have a noun as first element: carpet-tastic, scab-tastic, dicktastic, etc.). But then playful word formation is, well, inventive.

And then, caught this morning on a Law & Order: SVU rerun:

She’s bangtastic! [from bang ‘fuck, screw’]

(Here the base is probably a verb, but could be a noun, and in this case the first element conveys sexual content and not just enthusiasm.)

Bangtastic gets an Urban Dictionary entry, and there’s even a Bang-tastic Worldwide Adult Directory, of female escorts.

Of course, there’s also a fucktastic, which appears to have both sexual uses, like bangtastic, and merely enthusiastic uses, like dicktastic and cocktastic: roughly ‘fucking fantastic’.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: