This entire plan to be a regular blog-poster is on the brink of failure yet again. But the other day as I was going through my giant suitcase of books (my room has no place) I found a much beloved tome – the Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: 17th Edition. I had found this at Crossword of all places at a whooping seventy percent discount a couple of years ago. This book is a delight; gives a whole new meaning to the word dictionary. Amazon describes it in this fashion – “Much loved for its wit and wisdom since 1870, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable takes you on a captivating adventure through its trademark blend of language, culture, myth and legend.”
So what I’ve decided now is a very simple ritual. No matter what I read or do every week, I will return to the blog every Friday to post about one word or phrase or word history from my ginormous dictionary of phrase and fable. The idea is to open the book to any random page and post the entry which most catches my fascination.
Today’s phrase is this: (Page 285)
CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Journalistic jargon for any meeting, whether personal or professional.
Fair enough, this is how I use it, but then it goes to say…
The phrase was popularized by the title of the science fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), itself referring to contact with extraterrestrial beings from a UFO. A ‘close encounter of the first kind’ is thus simply a sighting of a UFO, while a ‘close encounter of the second kind’ is evidence of an alien landing. A ‘close encounter of the fourth kind’ is an abduction by aliens. The categories were proposed by J Allen Hynek’s The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry (1972.)
Further on, Wikipedia says that there have been extensions to Hynek’s list, so that there are now fifth and six kinds of close encounters to describe even further varying degrees of UFO contact. Another word I learnt today is ufology – the study of UFOs.