I was reading an online article from TIME magazine a few days ago, a political article written post-election. It was one of those articles attempting to analyze how the election went and why. It was fairly interesting, but I confess I was sort of skimming along. Suddenly, a phrase jumped out at me. The author of the article was describing what she considered to be one of the more important facets of the election, the "youth vote." And what did she call it? "The golden snitch of politics..."
The golden snitch of politics. I couldn't help it: I started chuckling. It's not as though this is a highly creative or even necessarily unique use of the phrase...I've applied "golden snitch" myself when writing about the Harry Potter phenomenon (in a review I once referred to the wonderful themes of the stories, especially the ones that are so rich and ripe for fruitful conversation with children, as the "golden snitch" of the series). I daresay other people have used the phrase already in all sorts of other contexts, because it's a (literally) colorful phrase, and such delightfully handy short-hand. One knows immediately what any author who uses these words means: the big prize, the goal someone seeks or longs for the most, the elusive thing everybody is after.
Still, this was the first time I'd really noticed a Harry Potter phrase or word so casually applied in a mainstream journal dealing with a topic that was completely non-literary, so I thought I would make note of it. Because it's fascinating, isn't it, when "storied words" cross over into other areas of writing and discourse.
It got me thinking about Tolkien and Lewis, both such important writers in the 20th century. Have any of their phrases or words hopped over into common parlance? (Of course they published long enough ago now that some of their phrases might have done so and already faded from fashion...)
Not long ago I was making a written comment to a student in an online church history class. I can't remember the precise context, but I think we must have been discussing the marvelous unexpectedness and greatness of God at a certain time in history. And I wrote the phrase "Not exactly a tame lion!" fully expecting that an anglican seminarian would get that context without me having to spell it out. I don't know how easily one could use a similar phrase in mainstream culture and expect people to understand it, though given the ongoing popularity of the Narnia stories perhaps more than I think. (I do think they've tried to tame the lion considerably in the movies...though that's "a horse of a different color". Hmmm...there's another one....)
So I'm curious. Can you think of an instance where you've heard someone use language from a beloved story (Harry Potter, Tolkien, Lewis, or any other) in a completely different context? Did it surprise you to find it where you found it? Or...to make this even more fun...are there certain words or phrases from stories you know and love that haven't crossed over into common usage but you think they could...or wish they would?