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Define your films: Are you sure what “inception” and “despicable” mean?

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” “Despicable Me.” “Inception.” Before you shell out the dough for a ticket, inform your decision with the meaning behind the titles.

“Inception” is director Christopher Nolan’s first film since the box office behemoth “The Dark Knight.” Nolan has a habit of using sophisticated, one-word titles for his films (besides the Batman series): “Memento,” “Insomnia,” “The Prestige. ”The general definition of inception is “a beginning.” The more interesting, specific sense of the word  is the opposite of beginning: “commencement, [graduation] as at a university or other school.”  This academic meaning suggests a metaphor of caution: will audiences feel like they are sitting through a boring lecture or having their minds expanded as in a provocative seminar? (And what do you call someone who wakes up in their dreams? In the real world, that is. Here’s the answer.)

Disney’s marketing of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” downplays its inspiration, the company’s classic Fantasia “a potpourri of well-known airs arranged with interludes and florid embellishments.” A teen idol replaces Mickey Mouse, but the anthropomorphized brooms remain. How is a sorcerer different from a wizard, a magician, a warlock, or a thaumaturgist, for that matter? Sorcery derives from the Latin sors, “fate,” and to sorcel,“use magic,” also means “to cast lots.” This etymology helps pinpoint the precise type of magic: Lots are  ”one of a set of objects, as straws or pebbles, drawn or thrown from a container to decide a question or choice by chance.” A sorcerer, then, is closer to divination (telling the future) than say, prestidigitation “sleight of hand” or necromancy “raising or contacting the dead.”

“Despicable Me” is already a blockbuster. The cartoon comedy boasts the classic adjective despicable, “deserving to be despised.” Despise comes from two Latin roots, de as in “down,” and specere, “”to look.” Of course, the word is most famous for its mangled pronunciation by Daffy Duck. We can’t help but wonder if Daffy were to watch “Despicable Me,” would his response be “That’s despicable?”

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23 Comments

  1. Defintion inception | Mygeneticherit -  July 8, 2012 - 9:28 pm

    [...] Inception and Despicable – what do these film titles mean? | The Hot …Jul 17, 2010 … ”The general definition of inception is “a beginning.” The more interesting, specific sense of the word is the opposite of beginning: … [...]

    Reply
  2. JUSTREADING -  March 3, 2012 - 6:23 am

    wow j. patterson is really into mastering the english language do you’s think he realizes he sounds like a total doosh. that was 2 years ago i guess..wonder how his academic endeavors are going..lol. he’s like the kid in lil rascals that never speaks til the end… “WELL ACTUALLY I’VE ALWAYS HAD RATHER AN EXTENSIVE VOCABULARY,I SIMPLY CHOSE NOT TO IMPLY THEM” i also like pie , the difference is ‘PER’, ‘IN’.and ‘CON’. ception..lol . i got inception and interception confused.. and i agree james is an idiot.

    Reply
  3. Jamie -  December 6, 2011 - 12:45 pm

    I thought Inception meant a dream inside a dream…guess not.

    Reply
  4. Cruz -  December 21, 2010 - 10:48 pm

    You think your dreaming, but really just using your imagination. Think you saw a vision, you probably did and thought God gave you a gift, but really its your imagination.

    Reply
  5. indigo -  November 29, 2010 - 8:13 pm

    Oh my, I forgot why I stopped reading article comments. This article wasn’t that great, and instead of reading something interesting about it all I see are stupid people, for the most part. If you’re going to call someone out for bad grammar, then at least have the decency to use it correctly yourself.

    And James, you’re an idiot. That is all.

    Reply
  6. Him -  November 26, 2010 - 4:09 pm

    @ Allan Turner If, at its inception your concept lacks perception, you end up with posts like these!!!

    Reply
  7. Rain -  November 26, 2010 - 11:24 am

    For michael –

    spalted means moldy, essentially. Spalting is discoloration of wood caused by the growth of fungi. Some of this can be quite beautiful.

    Reply
  8. James -  September 8, 2010 - 11:33 pm

    friend (paterson), you’re arguments hold no water and you’re retort of a grammar error to his obviously more well thought supply of input does not justify your intelligence nor make you’re point valid here. It just shows us that you are both arrogant and narrow minded.

    Reply
  9. R.T -  September 5, 2010 - 10:50 pm

    @ Justin Paterson

    Friend, if you are really serious about mastering the English language, it might benefit you to proofread your writing. “I’m am” is a simple mistake. Good luck with your academic endeavors.

    Reply
  10. WP Themes -  July 23, 2010 - 11:41 pm

    Nice dispatch and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you seeking your information.

    Reply
  11. Vox Vis -  July 20, 2010 - 8:50 pm

    @ Justin Paterson

    Just to inform, Christopher Nolan graduated with a degree in English Literature. Many more writers, producers, and directors graduated college with various other degrees. To say that they are unintelligent undermines their education and the effort it took to get where they are today. It’s not at all implausible to say that the men and women who worked to produce the scripts and the titles of these films put thought into their meanings. The burden a title must carry to successfully convey the personality of the film while also marketing it to the desirable audience is a great one. You can’t just slap a thoughtless name onto something like that and expect it to work. (Though, I have no doubt that some people do.) It’s a bit naive and condescending to claim that the minds behind the movies are unintelligent. Believing such a notion without giving a second thought to the makers’ backgrounds is, in my opinion, counterintuitive. After all, films come from scripts, and are scripts not forms of literature? Good day. =)

    Reply
  12. wILLIam -  July 18, 2010 - 2:48 am

    @ Allan turner:

    what is the piont of putting: ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ at the end of yur comments o dictionary.com??????

    Reply
  13. Justin Paterson -  July 17, 2010 - 5:28 pm

    I use dictionary.com daily in my academic endeavors, and I’m am thus very greatful for its existence. One of my greatest passions in life is expanding my mastery of the English language, and thus analyzing the underlying meanings behind phrases etc. However, I dislike this article. The people who make these movies are unintelligent (to use a gentle adjective), and trying to read intelligent denotations into their titles is counterintuitive.

    Reply
  14. Alan Turner -  July 17, 2010 - 11:31 am

    What the difference is between perception, inception and conception I just can’t conceive

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Reply
  15. friendly captain -  July 17, 2010 - 10:30 am

    what is the reason we call men wizards,not warlocks,likewomen are witches?

    Reply
    • Shiroe Megane -  January 12, 2016 - 5:59 am

      Cliffnotes version? A wizard is merely a practitioner of the magical arts. A warlock is the male variant, while a witch is the female variant. In long form, I’m sure there is a more technical answer.

      Reply
  16. DonaldDuck -  July 17, 2010 - 10:28 am

    I think that River Pheonix could have been a better casting than L. Decaprio if he were still in the world. If Pheonix can come back alive, then that is fine. I cannot imagine Keanu Reeves would play that role. He somehow reminds me of a sphinx sitting in a desert. I heard there are two kinds of sphinx, one in the Jean Cocteau’s novel and the other is the traditional. If there would be any confrontation, like the WW2, a sphinx could go after another prey more conceptual.

    Reply
  17. Olde Timer -  July 17, 2010 - 10:16 am

    There hasn’t been a good movie on a big screen since Giant came to town!

    Reply
  18. michael -  July 17, 2010 - 10:04 am

    cool story bro

    but im trying to look up the word “spalted mango” in dictionary.com and nothings popping up man. its supposed to be a type of wood and i dont know what “spalted” means. your really not good at grammar if i cant look it up, some people are just plane retarded.

    btw, predators was awesome. you should have put that in, chris hansen wasnt in it people could get confused with his show. peace out!!!

    Reply
  19. The Donald -  July 17, 2010 - 8:31 am

    The hot word… Some interesting topics, if not completely off the wall. It goes into the etomolgy of the words, Cool huh?

    Reply
  20. DESPICABLE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  July 17, 2010 - 8:14 am

    [...] may seem a bit “DESPICABLE” To tell this story about Edgar POE — to quote Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Nobody has any [...]

    Reply
  21. INCEPTION | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  July 17, 2010 - 7:19 am

    [...] at their “INCEPTION” for us meaning when we fall asleep — others confuse them with aspirations “GET TO [...]

    Reply

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