Holy prefix, Batman! A look at Bat-words in honor of Batman's 75th anniversary
Batman's contributions to the English language are as varied and colorful as his rogues gallery
Batman's contributions to the English language are practically Shakespearean in scope. (Facebook.com/DCComics)
It's been 75 years since Batman made his comic book debut. Since 1939, the cowled hero has contributed villains, sidekicks, gadgets, and thousands of stories to popular culture — and no less significantly, quite a few additions to the English language.
Almost everyone can recite the names of the major Batman allies (Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Robin) and villains (The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, Two-Face). Nicknames such as "the caped crusader," "the dark knight," "the world's greatest detective," and "the boy wonder" are thrown around in any number of contexts, as is the fill-in-the-blank phrase "Holy ___, Batman!" But among all these linguistic contributions, the most flexible and fun Batman-ism is probably the Bat- affix, which is seen in Batarangs, Batcows, Batkids, and beyond.
Though my interest in reading and watching Batman has ebbed and flowed, I've been a lifelong fan of Bat-words. Who wouldn't be? Bat-terms are invariably fun to say, and what kid doesn't dream of hanging around the Batcave, driving the Batmobile, or tossing a Batarang at a villain's head?
Many of those terms were coined by Lorenzo Semple, Jr., who created the Batman television show read more