In May this year, Batman will be celebrating its 75th anniversary and through the years it had made up and used several bat-terms that eventually found their way into everyday English. Since 1939, audiences have been treated to a host of sidekicks, villains, unlimited stories gadgets and most of all, several fictional words, some of which have been added to the English language.
Allies, villains, etc.
Almost all comic book lovers can name the major allies of Batman, such as Robin (of course), Alfred and Commissioner Gordon. Likewise, the top villains that appear regularly in succession are equally famous, including The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker.
Batman had many nicknames, such as the greatest detective in the world, the dark knight, and the caped crusader, which had been used not only in the comic books, TV shows and films, but also in the news. Robin, his sidekick, had been called the boy wonder all the time. It had become a game to fill in the popular phrase, “Holy ____, Batman!” with known bat-terms or other words people make up on their own. Of course this was more applicable during the early days of Batman and his sidekick, Robin. Today’s Batman is sophisticated, slick and quite dark. Aside from this, there is also the fun and flexible terms that creators have come up with, together with the bat- affix, for example, batkids, batcows, batarangs, batmobile, batsignal, batgirl, batwing, bathound. The list goes on as his gadgets all begin with the word bat-. It goes without saying that his hideout is called the batcave!
For most young fans, Batman is one of the greatest superheroes on earth. And the attraction could be attributed to the number of gadgets that children can play with, compared to other superheroes. Since Batman is a human who relies on his skills, he needs his fantastic gadgets to fight the villains. And his creators have coined numerous terms with the word ‘bat’ for most things related to him personally.
Of course there are the bat-fight words that were part and parcel of the Batman series. Who can forget ’em bat-fight words such bat-terms as zok, thwack, swoosh, vronk, boof, clunk, crraack, klonk, thunk and more?
Bat-terms are fun and easy to say. Most of the early terms were coined by Lorenzo Elliott Semple, Jr., an American screenwriter who created the Batman TV series in 1965. Some of the bat-terms also attributed to him include Super Fine Batgrain, Bat Ladder and Batcopter. One of the more extreme ones is the Shark Repellent Bat-spray that was used in a movie where Batman had to avoid a shark attack.
There were lesser known characters in Batman through the years, such as Bat-Squad, Bat-Hombre and Batboy. Some of them might have escaped the radar of viewers, except the most diehard of fans. There were even numerous vehicles, such as the batplane, batmarine, batgyro, batcycle, batmobile and batboat. Batwing was also a vehicle but in the recent productions, is the name of one of Batman’s allies.
Even Ben Affleck did not escape the bat-term. Fans were outraged when he was chosen as the next Batman, and fans immediately coined a new bat-word – Batfleck.
Could the reason for the existence of numerous bat-terms be that it is easier to coin words with “bat” than it is to coin words beginning with “Iron- or Spider- or Super-? Or could the appeal be due to Batman being super rich to afford having a butler, a police commissioner as a close friend and play with fantastic gadget to beat villains and enemies, which feed fans’ fantasies?
Whatever the reason may be, Batman has been around for 75 years and for the comic character’s millions of fans, he is the greatest superhero. So could we say that he’s Bat-tastic?