Tag Archives: film

How Blockbusters moved from Bombs to Movies


This week’s word is blockbuster – a film term with military roots.

Blockbuster entered English in 1942 to describe a large bomb which would flatten a city block with its destructive power.

By the 1950s the term was being used in the U.S. to describe a real estate agent who sold a house to a non-white family in a racially non-diverse neighbourhood, thus causing an exodus of home owners.

Thankfully the word got a new usage in the 60s when successful movies were described by it. Any big hit could qualify. However perhaps the best-known early blockbuster was Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” (1975) when audiences talked about the movie afterwards and went back to see it and its thrills multiple times. Audiences would line up right around the block to buy a ticket, busting the block.

Now every summer we have a slew of such blockbusters released to entertain audiences. It’s hard to see how such large audiences will manage social distancing in cinemas this summer, but as a cinema fan I have my fingers crossed for some blockbusters sometime this year if it’s safe to release them.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling.

Grace (@Wordfoolery)