Words at Play : Top 10 Words Born in Conflict

#5: Kamikaze

In the late stages of WWII, Japanese airmen deliberately crashed their planes into enemy targets. These suicidal pilots were called kamikaze – literally, divine wind.

That name came from a force that had saved their ancestors. In the late 13th century, an immense fleet of Mongol ships brought invaders to Japan's shores. When a sudden storm arose and destroyed those ships, the grateful populace called it divine wind.

These days, evoking the WWII meaning, kamikaze usually describes severe disregard for personal welfare.

For instance: "Endlessly repeated passions of self-starvation ... [and] kamikaze recklessness ... are displayed for our delectation on countless celebrity Web sites." (Jessica Winter, Slate.com, Mar. 19, 2007)

goto slidegoto slidegoto slidegoto slidegoto slidegoto slidegoto slidegoto slidegoto slidegoto slide
Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!
July 03, 2015
interpellate Hear it
to formally question a public official
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears