Seminal work – Yes, that seminal

Phrase: Seminal work, I used to think this meant someone’s masterpiece, their signature piece, such as Pachelbel’s canon or Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ but its proper meaning is a work which caused a movement, more like Darwin’s ‘Origin of the species’, where the book brought about a change in the way people think.

The seminal here, is the same seminal as in semen, and comes (no pun intended) from the idea that, like the sperm creating new life, the seminal work has birthed a new way of looking at things.

The comparison to the male part of creating life, is yet another example of the gender bias in the English language.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s