From disaster to great spectacle

The news for yesterday, from Inside Edition:

Saturday is scheduled to be the biggest day ever in sports history with “The Fight of the Century,” [Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao] Kentucky Derby, the NBA and NHL playoffs, and the final day of the NFL Draft.

The New York Post is calling it “Sportsmaggedon.”

— using the libfix –maggedon, usually naming disasters, but here referring approvingly to a great spectacle. The disaster libfix –pocalypse has sometimes gone the same route: in my “The news for libfixes” of 1/14/13, there’s a rave for “Airpocalypse: America’s premier Air Band!”


In both cases, a semantic component of great size or significance is preserved, but the affective polarity of the word is reversed: bad becomes good.

Background on the disaster libfixes (from 2011):

Back in 2008 there were the heavy snows, prompting cries of snowmageddon and snowpocalypse (and more) — portmansnow words. Then came the closing of I-405 in Los Angeles a little while back, yielding the words Carmageddon and Carpocalypse (and more; see here). Then last month the fierce heat waves, and yes, heatmageddon and heatpocalypse (and more).

The tradition continues. There’s a Hackmaggedon site (“I know with what weapons World War III will be fought…”) on computer security, hacking, and the like (security disasters); and Google’s algorithm changes to make its site mobile-friendly have been widely referred to as a disaster: Mobilemaggedon.

But all is not disaster, even in the computer world. For instance, there’s a Google app called Guitarmageddon (note the spelling):

Use Guitarmageddon to warm up, learn scale/chords/arpeggios, practice licks and develop technique. (link)


The name is presumably supposed to convey that the app is really really cool.

Inverted meanings. From the Oxford Words Blog of 5/5/11, on “Inverted meanings: sick, bad, and wicked”:

A common trick of slang is to invert meanings, so that seemingly negative words are used as terms of approval. Bad and wicked are two established examples, although it may surprise you to see just how far back their positive uses go.

The OED records ‘bad’ and ‘wicked’ used in a positive sense as long ago as 1897 and 1920 respectively

Sick is a more recent arrival, first seen as a US synonym for ‘excellent’ or ‘very impressive’ in 1983

It’s not just adjectives; nouns can invert, too, as we see from yesterday’s Sportpocalypse.

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