Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:23 am

<2017 “Some conservatives see upside-down [[Christmas]] trees as yet more proof of liberals’ politically correct war on Christian traditions. ‘It’s like the upside-down world . . . the bizarro world,’ . . .”—The Week, December 22/December 29>
The meaning is obvious. Using this word I got 4 hits in a Wordwizard search. But I have seen and heard it used quite often recently and I was wondering if it was a bone fide word, slang, or colloquial or what.

My 2006 American Heritage Dictionary doesn’t list it nor does Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary nor The Oxford English Dictionary. However, it is listed in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, Google Online Dictionary, Wiktionary, Oxford and some others. So, it has definitely arrived appearing in some dictionaries (the more nimble ones), indicating that it is a “relatively” new word. Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary does not list it as slang.


adjective: Characterized by a bizarre, fantastic, or unconventional approach : outlandish, bizarre. <the director's bizarro vision> <a bizarro comedy>

noun: weirdo, misfit. <Showgirl breasts and round hips that swayed to a sultry beat when she walked and drew heartbreakers and bizarros from the four corners of the earth.>

Etymology: It is said that the earliest use was in the sense of "logical inverse", derived via the comic book character Bizarro, an inverted version of Superman from a planet where "good" means "bad" and so on and first appearing in 1958 with a ‘B’ on his chest instead of the Superman ‘S’. Whether this is the origin of today’s bizarro, which may have just been a tacking on of an ‘o’ on ‘bizarre’ without reference to the anti-Superman character is, I think, open to question. Weirdo tacks on and “o” to describe “a person with that characteristic.” In fact the use of ‘weirdo’ (circa 1955) predates the appearance of the anti-Superman character Bizarro by a few years, so perhaps the idea for the use of the ‘o’ in ‘bizarro’ came years later from its use in ‘weirdo.’ Wacko first appeared in the 1970s from ‘whacky.’ The first known use of ‘bizarro’ is from 1971.

(Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, and Wikipedia)

The following are some quotes from archived sources (unfortunately the Oxford English Dictionary was mute on this one):
<1987 “She loves the Coens and their bizarro brand of moviemaking.”—Washington Post (D.C.),20 March>

<1990 “Brokaw and Pauley would no doubt be a more comfortable match than Reasoner and Walters - or the bizarro pairing of anchor aspirants Sam Donaldson and Diane Sawyer on ‘PrimeTime Live.’—Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago, Illinois), 27 May>

<1996 “And let us not forget the bizarro turns of ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Roseanne'' - ‘Seinfeld' in a weird new head space, and Roseanne with a lottery win and a weird new face.”—Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, 27 December>

<2005 “The harp is a little bizarro, I know, but I figured `Why not?' since all the other girls would probably be playing keyboards.”—The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts), 10 February>

<2011 “. . . we've entered ‘bizarro world’ in the discussions over extension of the payroll tax cut.”—States News Service, 22 December>

<2018 “. . . and of course, at the center of everything was our brand-new president, whose bizarro fusion of pop culture and politics make the days of The Governator seem quaint.”—Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 2 January>

Ken Greenwald – January 15, 2018

Re: bizarro

Post by tony h » Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:39 pm

Ken I wondered whether a recent film might have given rise to Bizzaro making its way to the ivory towers of Ken's Castle. So I searched o IMDB with the results listed below. My assumption is that with "Bizzaro" appearing in the titles the word had some foothold.

Supergirl 2016 episode Bizzaro
Kara must deal with a twisted version of Supergirl, while venturing into a possible romance.

Bizzaro Barbie 2014
Raquelle stumbles into an alternate world where she's the star, but stardom may not be as fulfilling as she thought

Smallville 2007
When Clark Kent (Superman) confronts Bizarro, the last wraith from the Phantom Zone, the ensuing fight causes the dam to break, unleashing a torrent of water.

The Bizzaro Jerry 1996
George uses Susan's death to pick up women. Elaine's new friend is Jerry's exact opposite. Jerry's new girlfriend has manly hands. Kramer pretends to work for an upscale firm

Mondo Bizzaro 1966
A faux travelogue that mixes documentary and mockumentary footage. The camera looks through a one-way glass into the women's dressing room at a lingerie shop, visits a Kyoto massage parlor, goes inside the mailroom at Frederick's of Hollywood, watches an Australian who sticks nails through his skin and eats glass, checks out the art and peace scene in Los Angeles, takes in Easter week with vacationing college students on Balboa Island, observes a German audience enjoying a play about Nazi sadism, and, with the help of powerful military lenses, spies on a Lebanese white-slavery auction. A narrator adds gravitas: "To the worm in the cheese, the cheese is the universe."
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: bizarro

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:07 pm


Could be.

Ken — January 16, 2018

Re: bizarro

Post by BonnieL » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:56 pm

The first thing I thought of was the Bizarro comic by Dan Piraro. But that was syndicated in '85.

Re: bizarro

Post by tony h » Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:21 pm

An earlier date, than 1966, was suggested by my beloved who mentioned Sir Walter Scott. In 1832 Scott penned a novel called Bizarro. According to the Wikipedia article, Il Bizarro does seem to have a slightly odd attitude to life (or death) - he killed a French officer by having him eaten by insects. Nowadays that would be a TV show.

And, I am told, it is the Portuguese for "bizarre".
Signature: tony

I'm puzzled therefore I think.

Re: bizarro

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Jan 17, 2018 2:39 am

In Italian we have 'bizzarro' for bizarre. They threw in an extra 'z' to make it really strange. :o

Ken — January 16, 2918

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