Want to Write the Blockbuster Novel? What’s a Blockbuster?

No Correlation

The English vocabulary is filled with many strange words, don’t you agree?  Like blockbuster. I used to look at that name on the Blockbuster stores – you know the one with the big blue ticket as the logo – and I would ponder.

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Of course I realized it referred to movies that were blockbusters, but how did such an odd word come to represent a movie that was a huge box office success? And I also realized that the term is often used to describe a novel of great success. But nothing about the word even hints at any correlation with what it describes.

Then at last I learned!

Massive Bombs

During World War II, bombs were used that weighed several tons. Massive; huge. They were massive enough to destroy entire complexes of buildings that the British called blocks.  Aha!  These high-impact bombs were then dubbed blockbusters by the Royal Air Force fliers.

From there, following the war, the nickname was applied to any high-impact event. It wasn’t until 1951 that it was first applied to a highly-publicized movie. Later, the term also came to include bestselling books (novels).

Fascinating how an expression that seems to have no apparent association, once you know the origin, it then makes perfect sense.

I love words!

And yes of course I would love to write a blockbuster novel. How about you?


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