Skip to main content

What is an oscar? Where does the word come from?



Winners of Hollywood's Academy Awards receive a gold-plated statuette on a black metal base.  It is 13.5 in (34 cm) tall, weighs 8.5 lb (3.85 kg) and depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes. The five spokes each represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.

The popular name for an Academy Award is an Oscar. But there is no definitive explanation as to why.

The name was first publicly used was in an article by Hollywood columnist about Katharine Hepburn's first Best Actress victory at the fifth annual ceremony in 1934. By 1939 the word was universally known - but there remains confusion regarding its origin.

One theory is that the name came from an early Academy director, Margaret Herrick, in 1931. According to this legend, Herrick thought that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar. Another is that Bette Davies named it after her husband - but that was in 1936.

A good example of how a nickname can survive long after its source is forgotten.

Comments

  1. The bit about the reel with five spokes was interesting. Learn something new every day. Go, Uncle Oscar!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Which countries do not have an official language?

According to Henry Hitchings Language Wars (2011) these nations do not currently have an official primary language:

Why is English not the official language of England?

58 countries list English as an official language - but not the UK. 

What is 'concept creep'?

Concept creep a term coined to describe 'psychology's expanding concepts of harm and pathology'. 
by applying concepts of abuse, bullying, and trauma to less severe and clearly defined actions and events, and by increasingly including subjective elements into them, concept creep may release a flood of unjustified accusations and litigation, as well as excessive and disproportionate enforcement regimes.   The concepts of abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice ... {have been subjected to historical changes}. In each case, the concept's boundary has stretched and its meaning has dilated. SourceThis trend towards a very broad definition of what constitutes 'harm' has been particularly pronounced on university campuses in the USA and - to a lesser extent - in the UK.



See Conor Friedersdorf's Atlantic essay, 'How Americans Became So Sensitive to Harm'

Download English FAQ Teaching Pack for only £1.99