kismet
Posted: 04 June 2011 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]
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kismet

I was reading an article on the interwebs and ran across this word, “kismet.” This is the first time I have noticed it enough to investigate. 

The word “kismet” appears in the context of the original article as follows:

“Steven Haddock of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (let’s all pause a moment to reflect on kismet of that surname/job combination) made this video...”

etymonline offers: kismet
1834, from Turk. qismet, from Arabic qismah, qismat “portion, lot, fate,” from root of qasama “he divided.”

I dimly recall hearing the word “kismet” but I never took the time to see what it meant.  The context must have sufficed to provide enough explanation to snub my curiosity those times I have heard it.  I’d like to ask if any here on the forum have often seen this word in common use. 

google ngrams shows what appears to be a small, yet significant rise in frequency of its use in books after the year 2000:

[ Edited: 04 June 2011 04:23 PM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 04 June 2011 04:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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addendum:

This increase in use of the term in google’s sample of books after the year 2000 appears to be only in American English

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Posted: 04 June 2011 06:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’d like to ask if any here on the forum have often seen this word in common use.

Yes. It’s not a word I see every day, but I would find it completely unremarkable to encounter it in my daily reading.

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Posted: 05 June 2011 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I would have thought the smaller spike in the 1950s was due to the Broadway musical Kismet, which premiered in 1953. But it seems to peak before 1953, and given the publication lag, you would expect the peak to occur around 1955-56 if the play were the major driver. It’s more likely the play used the word because it was “in the air” rather than being a source.

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Posted: 05 June 2011 04:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Kismet was the title of a hit movie in 1944 (R. Colman, M. Dietrich) and (according to IMDB) of 4 other movies since

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Posted: 05 June 2011 06:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yeah, that probably helped the surge.

I’m surprised at how many films have been made with the title Kismet, going back to 1914. It looks like a lot of them are remakes of the same basic story, or at least they’ve got characters with the same names (e.g., Hajj, Marsinah, and the Caliph). The musical appears to be a quite different story.

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Posted: 05 June 2011 08:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’m not at all certain that the word “kismet” is ever used today as a synonym for “destiny” or “fate” in British English: it certainly seems highly unusual to me. Many Britons (most? all?) will associate “kismet” with the words of Admiral Nelson as he lay dying after being shot by a French sniper at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805: these are now generally agreed to have been “Kiss me, Hardy” (Captain Thomas Hardy, commander of HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship), but they were bowdlerised later into “Kismet, Hardy” (on the apparent grounds that we can’t have a British naval hero asking another chap for a spot of tongue tennis); I suspect the first time most Britons come across the word “kismet” is going to be in association with the death of Nelson, one of the most iconic British historical events. This may give “kismet” distinctly dark associations to rightpondians, who are likely to view it as meaning dying at the moment of your greatest triumph. Certainly a quick check on Google News finds no uses of “kismet” recently in British publications, but several (often in the alliterative “comic kismet") in American ones.

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