Word of the Day : June 1, 2012

space cadet

noun SPAYSS-kuh-DET


: a flaky, lightheaded, or forgetful person

Did You Know?

"Space cadet" has been used derogatorily since the late 1970s, but long before then it referred to the rank that the character Matt Dodson hoped to achieve in Robert Heinlein's 1948 novel Space Cadet. Other writers of futuristic fiction followed Heinlein's lead, using the word in reference to young astronauts. From there the meaning broadened to cover any space travel enthusiast. Today the word is occasionally used as a slang word for a pilot who shows off, but it most commonly refers to those of us who may seem to have our minds in outer space while our bodies remain earthbound.


A well-worded e-mail that recaps your main points can remind your colleagues that, however much you flubbed your presentation in the meeting, you're not really such a space cadet.

"I'm more or less a space cadet in general, and developing the skill to pay attention so as not to electrocute myself has been quite helpful. You could say electrical wiring keeps me grounded." - Tom Ensign in an interview in The Bellingham (Washington) Herald, April 5, 2012

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "argot," our Word of the Day from May 16? The answer is ...


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