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Alternate Terminology

A very common aspect of creating AH worlds is to give different names to inventions and discoveries made after the PoD. These are typically very common items one sees or thinks of every day, as a change here is more of a thought-provoking shock to the casual reader.

Entries here should be listed alphabetically: The name of the OTL technologies as subsections, followed by an description of their OTL etymology and then by an alphabetical list of timelines and the alternative names and terms they use. The entries on this page come from various published AH literature and non-published AH works either from or other AH sites. If they have their own entry on this wiki, a link is added to their name.

Some authors like to use 'false friend' terminology, where a name used in OTL for something is used in an ATL for something else, as this is an easy way of shocking or provoking thought in the reader. For example, Decades of Darkness uses “Asperger's Syndrome” to mean AIDS (see below).

Fun fact: You can notice in these lists, that there are many instances of certain alternate terms being highly popular (or obvious), which leads to them cropping up in several otherwise completely unrelated timelines.


OTL: Both British and American terms derive from the shape of the wing. In the early days of adoption there were many more terms floating about (e.g. “avion” in French, which is still frequently used nowadays).

A Brother to Dragons: “Avians”. Self-explanatory, similar to the OTL French term, but derived from Latin.

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “Vozdputniks”. Russian term for “above-wanderer”, “up-wanderer”, “up-traveler”. Helicopters and VTOL aircraft are called “povogulks”.

Cliveless World: Airliners are referred to as “skyliners”. Airports are “skyports”.

Decades of Darkness: “Skycraft”. Self-explanatory. Seaplanes are called “skymarines”.

Dominion of Southern America: “Icewing”. The peculiar sounding term comes from the fact that the first succesful heavier-than-air aircraft were, as in OTL, powered by internal combustion engines - which are known in this timeline under the popular acronym “ICE”. Hence an “ICE-Wing”, which gradually evolved into “icewing”.

For Want Of A Nail: “Airmobiles”. Invented by Edison, who also coined the term for them.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Vimana”, after the flying vehicle from Hinduist mythology. Used due to the much greater influence of Indian culture and science worldwide in this TL.

Her Diamond Heart: “Motorflyer”. Abbreviation for “motorised flying machine”.

Isaac's Empire: “Dragons”. Initially a Chinese invention known as “Roaring Kites”, Europeans renamed them.

Lands of Red and Gold: A helicopter is known as a “rotorala”. Airways/airlines are referred to as “flyways”.

Look to the West: “Aerodrome”. A term briefly used in OTL to describe early heavier-than-air aircraft, before being reassigned to mean their landing ground.

Pax Napoleonica: The first heavier-than-air flight occurred in the closing months of the Great War (1900-1904), flown by Alfred Wagoner in the United States. The Wagoner name in the United States began to be synonymous with airplane and in North America, airplanes were known under the peculiar-sounding terms “wagons” or “airwagons”. The rest of the world referred to them as aircraft or airplanes, as in OTL.

Puritan World: “Waraven”. Probably evolved from the term “war raven” or something similar.

Southern Victory (TL-191): While aircraft and aeroplanes are still called the same as in OTL, specific types of planes are often known under alternate terms. Due to the US of the TL being German-allied and German-philic, they adopt the more German-sounding “one-decker”, “two-decker”, “three-decker” nomenclature for monoplanes, biplanes and triplanes. Also, jets in general are called “turbos”.

The Fox and the Lillies: Fighter planes are called “aerohunters” or simply “hunters”, mirroring the OTL terms in most Germanic and Romance languages. Interceptor-like fighters are commonly known as “pursuers” (identical to the general OTL term for fighter aircraft in some Slavic-speaking countries). Bombers and ground attack aircraft are known under various terms, including “raiders”, “disruptors” and “maulers”. Airliners are called “airvoyagers” or more simply “voyageflyers/travelflyers”.


OTL: Abbreviation for “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome”.

Chaos: “Erworbenes Immunschwäche-Syndrom”, abbreviated EISS (pronounced like “ice”). This is actually the literal German translation of the OTL term.

Decades of Darkness: “Asperger syndrome”. Named after the very doctor Asperger, but describing a completely different diagnosis. (So, from an OTL linguistic point of view, it's a "false friend"-style term.)

For All Time: “SPID”. An acronym formed from the Russian term for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

TL-191: After the End: “Fleischer's Syndrome”. Named after Dr. Michael Fleischer, the German scientist who first discovered it in the Congo during the early 1960s.


OTL: “Airship” is fairly obvious. “Dirigible” comes from the French dirigeable, meaning 'steerable', referring to the idea that an airship is a steerable balloon - in contrast to earlier balloons. Rigid airships - “zeppelins” - are named after their German inventor, count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. The term for non-rigid airships - “blimps” - was coined by the British during World War One, after the sound the airship makes when one taps the envelope (balloon) with a finger. The coining of the term is usualy attributed to Lt. A. D. Conningham.

Decades of Darkness: “Cloudship”. Self-explanatory.

Dominion of Southern America: “Air whales”.

Fight and Be Right: “Dirigible”.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Havajahaz”. Persian for “airship”.

Isaac's Empire: “Xenonic Dromon”. Combining the name of the inventor, Andronicus Xenon, with the Byzantine term for a medieval warship of theirs, the Dromon.

Look to the West: “Steerable”, an English version of the French dirigeable etymology noted above.

The Fox and the Lillies: Rigid airships are called “rostislavs” (abbrev. “rosts”), similar to the OTL term “zeppelins” (abbrev. “zeps”). They were invented by the Russian engineer Fyodor Andreievich Rostislavsky from the New Republic of Novgorod, hence the name. Non-rigid airships (blimps) are called “dégonflers” (abbrev. “dégons”). The French invented the first blimps here, just like in OTL, but kept their airship research alive for a longer time and coined the term for a baloon airship instead of the British. “Dégonfler” simply means “deflatable”.

The Peshawar Lancers: “Air Yacht”. Self-explanatory.

Alternate history

OTL: “Alternate history” has become the commonest genre moniker. The shorter terms “allohistory” and “allohistorical” usually describe concepts related to the genre, such as alternate timelines (“ATL”). “Counterfactual history” is the term used for non-fiction allohistorical studies and scenarios developed by professional historians (handily differentiating AH non-fiction from AH fiction). Some languages also have their own unique expression for the AH genre, most notably the French term Uchronie, which also spread to Italian and Spanish. Though the longer term “alternative history” has been sometimes used as a synonym to the shorter version, its frequent association with the promotion of pseudohistory, revisionist history or conspiracy theories has made its popularity dwindle considerably. As a consequence, “alternate history” had become the preferred term for the genre nowadays. (Also more accurate, as it presents an altered, fictional history, not an ideological alternative to real history.)

Look to the West: “Speculative romance” is the equivalent genre, though with some minor differences. It is a broader category, which can include stories such as aliens landing in the present day. Speculative romance is often considered the most 'realist' school of the three, focusing on how strange events change the world as it actually is (or was). Not how the author wants it to be to make a point, as is often the case in “scientific romance” (the TL's equivalent of “science fiction”).

TL-191: After the End: “Speculative History”, also abbreviated to and more commonly known as “Spec Fics”. Literature that attempts to imagine history gone differently. The most famous Spec Fic from the 1970s is Greg Bliss's 1974 novel Doctor Lexington, with a bleak setting, depicting a world in which Featherston’s Confederacy won the Second Great War, and went on to dominate the New World. (This novel is a TL-191 equivalent of OTL's The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick.)


OTL: Called “Aluminum” or “Aluminium” depending on where one is from. In OTL it was given its name due to being extracted from the ore Alum. Ironically, the American term is more accurate, since that is what Sir Humphry Davy eventually settled on.

The Britwank Empire, Look to the West and Once More Unto the Chappa'ai: “Alumium”, from the original version of the name.


OTL: Derived (in the English language) from the German word “Angst”, which originally means “fear”.

Chaos: “Horreur”, from the French word.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Lek” or “lec”, depending on the language. These are mild calques of the original Polish term “lęk”.

Animal Rights

OTL: Self-explanatory.

Look to the West: “Neo-Franciscanism”, a reference to St Francis of Assisi.


OTL: The term antibiotic was coined by Selman Waksman in 1942 to describe any substance produced by a microorganism that is antagonistic to the growth of other microorganisms in high dilution. This definition excluded substances that kill bacteria, but are not produced by microorganisms (such as gastric juices and hydrogen peroxide). It also excluded synthetic antibacterial compounds such as the sulfonamides. Confusingly the word just means 'anti-life'.

Cliveless World: “Antimals”. Derived from the term 'anti-maladies'.

Look to the West: “Culicides”, a contraction of “animalculicides”, meaning “animalcule killers”–animalcules being an older name for bacteria and similar microorganisms.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Antimicrobics”. A somewhat more accurate rendering of the medical purpose of such substances.


OTL: So called because it is the “opposite” of ordinary matter.

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “Unmatter”. Self-explanatory, though kind of more confusing-sounding than its OTL counterpart.

Once More Unto the Chappa'ai: “Countermatter”, for the same reason as OTL.

Artificial Intelligence

OTL: A non-human intelligence, typically a computer program.

GURPS Alternate Earths II, Caliph: “Djinn”. The scientifically and technologically very far developed Muslim world has agreed that the “smokeless fire” of which Allah (according to the Quran) created the Djinni was electricity. So they called their AIs “djinni”.

Assault rifle

OTL: An English calque of the original German term “Sturmgewehr”, which was applied by Nazi Germany for the first true assault rifles produced, simply named the Sturmgewehr 44 and Sturmgewehr 45. The over-dramatic name is probably a consequence of Nazi propaganda naming of weapons. Amusingly, the term has been further calqued from English to various other European and non-European languages, even though it sounds odd in some of them.

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “Autorepeater”. Self-explanatory.

The Fox and the Lillies: Various international names. The most popular one is “Rapid-fire rifle”. It is often shortened to “Rapidrifle”, and, particularly in English, to the punny jargon term “Rafi”.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Fedorov”. Named after the Avtomat Fedorova, the earliest OTL archetype of an assault rifle, which was much more widely produced, succesful and iconic in this particular timeline, already in the 1910s and 1920s. Anglophone nations eventually adopted the more nativist (and more punny) term “fed-rifle” (later simplified to “fedrifle”). This was partly due to Russophobic paranoia in certain decades of the 20th century, and partly due to the fact that the rifle is “fed” from a much larger magazine than the ones its slower bolt-action predecessors tended to use. Also, the soldier jargon of some central European nations tends to call the gun type by the nickname “fedor”, after the commonly occuring male name from the eastern edges of central Europe. In more modern official parlance, fedorovs also tend to be called “self-loaders” (English-speaking countries) and “avtomatky” (Slavic countries).


OTL: A combination of the Greek terms ástron (“star”) and nautes (“sailor”, “mariner”). The word isn't a purely 20th century invention, as it was used as a mostly poetic term throughout history, and with varying meanings: Percy Greg's Across the Zodiak, a book published in 1880, used “astronaut” as a term for “spacecraft”! The first use of astronaut in the modern day sense was by Neil R. Jones in a sci-fi short story published in 1930. The prefered term used in the USSR and the states of the former East Bloc was/is “cosmonaut” (cosmos meaning “universe” in Greek). With the recent entry of China into manned spaceflight, a Greek-Chinese kitbash backronym has appeared: “Taikonaut” (taikong being one of the Chinese terms for “outer space”). European astronauts are sometimes unofficially (and rather jokingly) refered to as “spationauts” (spatium being the Latin term for “space”). The recently adopted official Indian term is “vyomanaut” (vyoma meaning 'space' or 'sky' in Sanskrit).

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Aasmaan Yatri”. Hindi for 'Sky Traveller'.

TL-191: After the End: “Weltraumsmann”. German for 'Spaceman', since the first man in space was an Austro-Hungarian flown in a joint German/Austro-Hungarian spaceflight mission. The anglophone nations adopt a calque of the term - “spaceman”.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: The central European space programme of the Visegrad Union uses the term “stellonaut” (basically the same meaning as OTL “astronaut”, but with the Latin adjective for 'star' instead of the Greek one). The Japanese term is “uchū kūkan boijā” ('void (of space) voyager'). The Brits and French use OTL terms, but they don't share them and their adoption wasn't influenced by OTL vocabulary.


OTL: A term used to mean a political movement supposedly arising from the people which is actually faked by the establishment seeking to clothe itself in populist colours. American in origin, it is based on the term “grassroots” to mean genuine examples of such popular political movements, with “astroturf” being a US term for artificial grass on sports pitches, therefore implying a fake political movement.

Look to the West: “Rat-Revolt”, an anglicisation of the German ”Rattenfänger Revolte“ coined by radical leader Wilhelm Brüning; Rattenfänger is the name in German for the figure known in English as the Pied Piper. Refers to German nationalist revolutions supposedly spontaneously organised by the people but actually 'led along' by the tune of the Saxon government's piper. Most people using the English term do not understand where it comes from and think it has something to do with pejoratively describing members of such movements as rats.


OTL: A term from chaos theory, describing a state towards which a dynamical system evolves over time.

Chaos: “Gravitor”, because every possible state tends to gravitate towards them.


OTL: Term based on the somewhat stereotypical notion that the European countries of the Balkan peninsula spent centuries doing nothing else but ludicrously fighting each other in order to carve up their territories into increasingly smaller statelets of dubious status. This concept is often invoked in a similarly mocking fashion when talking about the many tiny statelets of the Holy Roman Empire and their complicated evolution throughout the centuries. Since its coining, the term “balkanization” has gradually been adopted in international politological lingo as a generic term for “larger state/country/empire breaking up into smaller successor states or territories, often by way of military and diplomatic conflicts or secessionist movements”.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: While the OTL term is still quite a bit popular, the far greater post-WWI chaos in central and eastern Europe that occured in this timeline has led to the rise of several new terms and monikers. Among the most popular is “disunionization” - referring to the so-called Disunion Wars that occured between the multitude of successor states to Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire in the first half of the 1920s. The term was further popularized after the United States gradually disintegrated in the late 1920s and 1930s. Due to this timeline featuring a much more balkanized (“disunionized”) 20th century world for several decades, not only everyday expressions, but also political thought and popular perceptions/stereotypes have been influenced by the far more widespread balkanization phenomenna.


OTL: 1868, coined as a kitbash of the Latin prefix bi- ('two') and the Greek kyklos ('“circle, wheel'). Both the word and the vehicle superseded the earlier term velocipede (nowadays considered an archaism). The English word probably is not from French, though often said to be (many French sources say the French word is from English). The assumption apparently is because Pierre Lallement, employee of a French carriage works, improved Macmillan's 1839 pedal velocipede in 1865 and took the invention to America.

Look to the West: “Celeripede” (speed-foot in Latin), another term akin to velocipede used in OTL but which was only ever applied to a specific type of bike - in TTL it becomes the generic term.

Romanitas: “Birota”. Nearly the same as the OTL term, but the second half of the word denotes the rotation of the wheels instead of their circular shape. It is also a purely Latin word, reflecting the dominance of the Roman Empire in this timeline.

Bit (computing)

OTL: First recorded use in 1948, supposedly a contraction of 'binary digit'. A bit refers to the basic unit of information in data processing, which can have the value 0 or 1. Eight bits make a byte. The limit on the number of bits that can be processed in parallel is one measure (though not the defining one) of computing power: for example most home computers run on either 32-bit or 64-bit software. Focus on this number for propaganda purposes was an important part of the 'Console Wars' until the sixth generation of consoles.

Look to the West: Uses the Greek word 'meros', meaning 'part', so for example a 1-bit system is unimeric and a 6-bit system is hexameric. This terminology is used in OTL to describe a large molecule made up of a number of subsections, especially a protein.


OTL: Literally “Lightning War” in German. Coined by pre-WWI German military strategists and used both in WWI and WWII (with very varying results).

Chaos: “Molniya”. From the Russian word for “lightning” or “flash”.

Look to the West: “Guerre d'éclair”, 'War of Lightning' in French. Comes about much earlier than the OTL version but has the same basic idea of emphasising speed, bypassing enemy armies and swiftly seizing the capital and other key parts of the enemy country. Later the “Guerre de tonnere” ('War of Thunder') idea is introduced, which specifies that the rapidly advancing armies must supply themselves and not live by marauding the locals, as this will only store up problems for the occupation. This requires that the supply train move quickly as well as the army.

GURPS Alternate Earths I, Dixie: “Guerre d'Eclair”, with the same etymology as in Look to the West. Coined by no one else but TTL Charles de Gaulle.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Cloudburst warfare”. The comparison being cloudbursts rather than lightning.


OTL: Paradoxically, coined by Karl Marx in his theoretical work Das Kapital (published in 1867) to describe the predominant economic system present in Europe, the Americas and most of the other highly developed countries in the world. The word 'capitalist' predates this (being recorded as early as the 1840s) but Marx codified it.

Chaos: “Monetarism”. From monetas, the Latin term for “money”. In OTL, this term describes a school of economics.

Look to the West: “Carltonism”, although this refers to a somewhat more narrow definition than OTL “capitalism”. Named for Richard Carlton, a Carolinian economist who republished Adam Smith's writings and built on them. (Adam Smith published much the same works as OTL, but due to the increased prejudice against Scots in TTL, his work was not as widely recognised in his lifetime).

The Fox and the Lillies: “Numulocratism” or “Numulocracy”, meaning “money rule”. (lit. “coin rule”, since numulus is Latin for 'coin' and kratos is Greek for 'rule'). Coined (pun intended) by French political philosopher Charles Marchand, who was a somewhat more bitter analogue of Karl Marx. His book - the Das Kapital analogue - is even called Numulocratie.


OTL: “Car”, a pre-existing contraction of carriage previously used to describe horse-drawn vehicles and train carriages. Automobile is a Greek-Latin kitbash meaning ”(it) moves (by) itself”. A common modern day abbreviation in many languages is “auto”. In the early years of motor vehicles, there were many, many more competing terms, perhaps the most common of which was “the machine”.

A Brother to Dragons: “Carriages”. Self-explanatory.

An Alternate History of the Kingdom of Hawaii: In French-speaking territories, small utility vans (analogous to OTL minibuses or camionettes) are called pemofi. This is a contraction of the French term petit motofiacre ('small motorcab'). A typical example of such a car is the ubiquotous Archambault Dépendable. Seatbelts are referred to as “safety bands” and were invented and introduced in this TL by the car company Johnson-Sperry.

Bring the Jubilee: “Trackless locomotives” or “Minibiles”.

Chaos: “Motorkutsche”. German for “motor carriage”. Commonly abbreviated as “Mok”. People who participate in illegal car races are called “Mokkers”.

Cliveless World: “Wasps”. This is due to the tradition of building car bodies and chassis with an assymetric and articulated layout, making them look quite different from the ones we know in OTL.

Decades of Darkness: “Horst”. A punny contraction of “horseless steam car” (the pun being a common German male name).

For Want Of A Nail: “Locomobiles”. Invented by Edison, who also coined the term for them.

Isaac's Empire: “Auto-Wagon”. Fairly self-explanatory.

Look to the West: “Mobile”. Self-explanatory.

The Two Georges: “Steamer”. Reflecting the fact that all cars in that ATL are still steam-powered even in the 20th century.

What Madness Is This: “Autocarriage”.

Cold War

OTL: Specifically referring to the ideological conflict between western capitalism, led by the USA, and eastern communism, led by the USSR, between 1945 and 1989 which dominated the second half of the twentieth century. More generally referring to any conflict between two opposing powers which is not fought openly, but in the shadows through espionage and proxy wars. The term was coined by George Orwell in 1945.

GURPS Alternate Earths I, Dixie: “The Long Drum Roll”.

The Draka series: “The Protracted Struggle”

Look to the West: “Quiet war”.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “The Wary Balance”. More rarely “Pax Tetrarca”, referring to the four superpowers of the timeline (UK, France, China, Japan). It is not as pronounced (ideologically or otherwise) as the OTL cold war and is more on the level of economic and scientific rivalry than a military one. It largely fades away by the mid-1970s and early 1980s.


OTL: “Counting machine”. Originally referred to a person doing computations/calculations, i.e. a counter/calculator. Later mostly used for the machines doing this (and other stuff).

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “Tabulators”.

A Brother to Dragons: “Calculator”. As with the previous one, same definition of computer, different word.

Cliveless World: “Fountains” or “Founts”. Apparently from likening them to a “fountain of wisdom”.

Dominion of Southern America: At first, “Electronic logic engine”. During the mid-to-late 20th century, “Logicine” became the predominant term.

GURPS Alternate Earths I, Gernsback: “Electronic brain”. A term sometimes used in OTL as well, in the past more often than nowadays.

Look to the West: “Ypologists”, from the Greek word for calculator (the OTL Greek word for computer is the related “υπολογιστής”). Popularised by a punning song which had early computer pioneers nervously “apologising” to a mob of angry arithmeticians who were out of a job. Prior to this word catching on, early computing experiments were based on programmable looms, and these machines were often just called “programmables”, a term that was also used for some early computers.

TL 191: After The End: “Combines”. Home computers are called “home combines” and desktops are “desk combines”.

The Cusanus Game: “Electric Pascal calculation apparatus” (elektrischer Pascal-Rechenapparat). The early examples at least. - Ada Lovelace did the programming.

Computer Bugs

OTL: A term coined by computer programmer Grace Hopper. Read more about the history of the term here.

Chaos: “Weeds”. Because they have to be “weeded out” by computer programmers.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Goblins” or “Tricksters”. The terms were based more on references to mythology than to common plant or animal pests. It is reminescent of the way how certain OTL nations refer to technological glitches in newspaper printing (e.g. typos) as “newspaper goblins”.

Computer Hackers

OTL: “Hacker”, originally derived from 'to hack about', meaning similar to 'to mess about' - “someone who messes about with computers”. See also the Jargon Dictionary entry.

Chaos: “Logo” (as in, one Logo, two Logos). Derived from the Greek word for “logic” or “knowledge”.

Non-AH: The Star Wars universe uses “slicer”. Thande's Thalvetia universe uses “rousser”. (In an unlikely coincidence this term is used both by the Union of Humanity and the Doagorik Empire - the Humans derive it from computer magnate Richard Rousse, while the Doagori derive it from the name of the planet where their main computer archives are located, Roussall.)

The Difference Engine: “Clacker”. Note that the novel takes place in a steampunk Victorian Britain entering a primitive version of the Information Age, where computers are actually mechanical calculating engines based on Babbage's design - hence the “clacking” sound they emmit while being used.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Cruncher”, since hacking involves a fair bit of pattern and code crunching.

Computer Networks

OTL: Self-explanatory.

Chaos: “System”. Pronounced roughly as “süsthem” in German, the primary global language of TTL.

Computer Programming

OTL: The term originally comes from deciding what acts or events to put on in what order at a concert–the “programme” handed out to the audience is a paper indicating the list of acts. By analogy, if a machine requires a list of directions in a given order, this was referred to as a 'programme'. The verb 'to programme' and adjective 'programmable' was used for the programmable looms of the late eighteenth century, which used punch cards for the programme and therefore are the ancestors of computers. Therefore, note that this term is actually much older than people think, and if writing a TL you may not want to change it to something else unless your TL has a POD earlier than the eighteenth century.

Cotton gin

OTL: A contraction of 'cotton engine'. An invention by Eli Whitney in 1793 that can be used to easily separate cotton fibres from seeds and was infamously responsible for making slave labour more profitable in the US South.

Look to the West: “Cotton-thresher”.

Chaos theory

OTL: “Disorder / Mayhem Theory”. Chaos comes from the Greek khainein meaning “to yawn”. In ancient Greek mythology, Chaos was the initial state of the universe, which was highly disorganized. The modern (and usual) meaning of the term was established later in Antiquity by the Stoicist school of hellenistic philosophy. A common example used while referring to the Chaos Theory itself, is “the butterfly effect” (a single wawe of a butterfly's wings in a park in London could theoretically influence weather patterns and cause a drizzle in Tokyo, etc.).

Cliveless World: “Weather Mathematics”. Referencing the oft-cited butterfly example of OTL.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Teoria do Ponto Inicial”. Portuguese for “Initial Point Theory”.


OTL: “Chlorine”. From the Greek word khloros, which means “pale green”. First hypothesised by Carl Scheele in 1774, not definitively isolated until Michael Faraday liquefied it in 1821.

Look to the West: “Muriatine”, a back-formation from the fact that the old name for hydrochloric acid (before chlorine was discovered) was “muriatic acid”, meaning 'salty' (as it was made from sodium chloride and sulfuric acid, or sea salt and oil of vitriol as they were known at the time).

Comic (book)s

OTL: A storytelling medium consisting of drawn panels in sequence accompanied with written annotations and speech. Mainly known as comic books in North America and just comics in Britain, these names being derived from them being associated with humorous or 'comic' content. Because these terms can therefore sound narrow and dismissive, some people prefer the more general term 'sequential art'. There is also an interconnected tradition of Franco-Belgian comics that are known as bandes dessinées (“drawn strips”) or BDs for short.

Look to the West: “Sequents”, singular “a sequent”. Nobody is quite sure if this is an abbreviation for 'sequential art' (see above) or a mistaken back-formation from less educated people assuming that 'sequence' was the plural form (i.e. thinking it was sequents) and therefore 'a sequent' is the singular.


OTL: A term for the science of complex systems. Derived from the Greek kybernētēs - “steersman”.

Chaos: “Theory of Complexity”.

Diesel fuel

OTL: Named after Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine.

Her Diamond Heart: “Ambroseum”. Named after Edward Alexander Ambrose, the in-TL inventor of the diesel engine analogue.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Beran fuel”, powering “beran engines”. Named after its Czech inventor, a certain Jeroným Beran.


OTL: “Terrible/Awesome Lizards”. The taxon Dinosauria was formally named in 1842 by paleontologist Sir Richard Owen, who used it to refer to the “distinct tribe or sub-order of Saurian Reptiles” that were then being recognized in England and around the world. The term is derived from the Greek words deinos ('terrible', 'potent', or 'fearfully great') and sauros (meaning 'lizard' or 'reptile'). Though the taxonomic name has often been interpreted as a reference to dinosaurs' teeth, claws, and other fearsome characteristics, Owen intended it merely to evoke their size and majesty.

Monarchy World: “Ti-Lung”. Chinese for “Earth Dragon”, because many of the first breakthroughs in the understanding of these extinct reptiles were made at the Chinese fossil bone deposits, rather than those in the West (Europe, North America).

The Fox and the Lillies: “Eudracones”, literally meaning “True Dragons” in Greek and Latin. Their first discoverers thought that they have found final proof for the existence of dragons in older periods of human history (e.g. Antiquity, the Middle Ages, etc.). Once the scientific methods employed by paleontology had further advanced, these early amateur fossilhunters were proven wrong - but the term had already widely caught on. In addition, some languages have also devised their own terms. For instance, Polish has smokojeszczur ('dragon-lizard') and Hungarian uses dörögögyík ('thundering lizard') and the calque valódisarkány ('true-dragon'). Pterosaurs are often referred to as “harpies” or “wyverns” and were originally conflated with dinosaurs.

Disc Jockey (DJ)

OTL: A disc jockey, also known as a “DJ” (pronounced “dee-jay”), is a person who plays recorded music for an audience. Originally, “disc” (sometimes spelled “disk”, although this is now uncommon) referred to phonograph records, not the later Compact Discs. Today, the term includes all forms of music playback, no matter the medium.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Gramowrangler”, with the standard acronym being “GW” (pronounced “jee-wee”). Similar in origins to the OTL etymology, with the term itself being a contraction of the ATL slang term “gramophone wrangler”.


OTL: A totalitarian concept first described by George Orwell in his dystopian novel 1984 (published in 1949), in which it is defined as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them”.

Look to the West: “Ericsson Syndrome”, after the Swedish alienist (psychologist) Nils Ericsson who first described it in the 1830s. Unlike the OTL example, this is supposed to be an actual mental illness that is only later pejoratively applied to other people's political beliefs, suggesting they are not merely hypocritical in their contradictions but literally insane. It was first used in this way by Pablo Sanchez in 1841.


OTL: The equation that states that energy and mass are interchangable.

The Britwank Empire: “Equivalence theory”, because energy is equivalent to mass, and vice versa.

Look to the West: “The Lightspeed Square Law”, named by analogy to the existing Inverse Square Law, Inverse Cube Law, etc.

The Cusanus Game: “Mass-energy principle”, discovered by William Kingdon Clifford


OTL: Derived from Old French engin, from the Latin ingenium. Often called “motor” as well.

The Cusanus Game: “Burning spinner” (Brennkreisel), invented by Corbinian Seeshaupter, a gunmaker from the area of Salzburg.


OTL: Environmentalism, derived from the originally French word environment to describe the vicinity of something, such as oneself, and by extension the wider area of the Earth itself.

Chaos and Decades of Darkness: “Terramici”. Latin and Italian for “Friends of the Earth”.

Look to the West: “Stewardism”, referring to the Biblical admonition that humans are the stewards of the Earth.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Assisism”, referencing St. Francis of Assisi's love and admiration for nature. Popularized during the 19th century by pope Martin VII., who was a notable proponent of the importance of enviromentalist thought in modern Christian faith.

TL-191: After the End: “Ecoism”. Spearheaded particularly by the Brazilians, after the founding of Dr. Lucas Braga's Partido ecológico in the 1970s.

Epidemic diseases

OTL: From the Greek terms επί ('epi'), meaning “upon or above”, and δήμος ('demos'), meaning “people”.

Lands of Red and Gold: Doctors and medical scholars of several native Australian cultures refer to them as “bushfire diseases” - a metaphor on these diseases being as deadly and quickly spreading as Australian bushfires.

Ethnic cleansing

OTL: The act of forcibly removing undesirable peoples from a territory desired by another. This can involve anything between forced relocation to full-blown massacres. The term itself was sadly popularized during the Yugoslav Wars of the early 1990s, when several war crimes of this nature were committed. Ironically, the term was originally intended as an euphemism used in official state propaganda of the warring countries. Similar cases of ethnic cleansing have occured throughout history, particularly in certain regions after the end of the Second World War. An example of ethnic cleansing that quickly devolved into outright systematic genocide is the Holocaust that occured in Nazi-occupied Europe in the late 1930s and during WWII.

The Course of Human Events: “Lavation”. During the timeline's 20th century, this act was named after the Latin term lavatiro, derived from lavare - “to wash”.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Streamlining of (Ethnic) Stock”, often abbreviated to “stockstreaming”. Over time, said contraction/abbreviation has acquired many negative connotations in the timeline's political philosophy, and is regarded as a thinly-veiled and carelessly used euphemism favoured by apologetists of racist or xenophobic policies.

Her Diamond Heart and Liberty's Crystal Skeleton: “Ethnic Liquidation”. Performed by various powers during the Long Winter.

Look to the West: “Racial purging”.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Ethnic calibration” or “population calibration”.

Southern Victory (TL-191): “Population reduction”.

(Theory of) Evolution (and Natural Selection)

OTL: The concept of natural selection was established and introduced to the scientific world mainly by Charles Darwin in the 1830s-1850s. It posits that species change over time to produce new species with desirable traits, or “survival of the fittest.” Note that this is often mistakenly referred to as “evolution”; “evolution” just means “one species changes into another over time” and is a very old idea that was discussed by Darwin's own grandfather among others. Darwin's breakthrough was in suggesting a mechanism by which this evolution could take place.

Cliveless World: “Entwicklung” and “Natürliche Vorwähler”. Discovered by a Hungarian analogue of OTL G. J. Mendel and known under the German equivalents of the OTL English terms in most countries of the TL.

Isaac's Empire: “Natural Progression”, as proposed by the Ethiopian naturalist John Makonnen. The “Progress” part of this is disputed by dualistic elements in the Church.

Look to the West: “Environmental Breeding”. Proposed by Frederick Paley, son of William Paley of watchmaker metaphor fame. Not entirely the same as the OTL theory, for example denying the idea of species.


OTL: One of the most infamous ideologies in modern history, based on the thesis that nations are monolithical and anti-individualist entities. The first nation where the ideology caught firm roots was inter-war Italy, under the supervision of Benito Mussolini. The name for the regime comes from the Latin fasces, an ancient Roman term for a special ceremomial item (an axe with the handle wrapped in a bundle of wooden sticks), which symbolized the jurisdiction and power of Rome since the times of the republic.

Decades of Darkness: “Vitalism”.

Dominion of Southern America: “Kosgaardianism”. It isn't a pure analogue of fascism, more like “totalitarianism propagated and promoted by the upper classes”, with an equal ideological blend of OTL Fascist and Stalinist thought.

Pax Napoleonica: “Zavtraism”, from the Russian word zavtra ('tomorrow'). Named after the ideology (and later regime) installed and lead in the Russian tsardom by general Anton Morchenko, a fierce nationalist and pan-Slavist (and ATL analogue to both Mussolini and Hitler). This ideology is adopted by several of Morchenko's sympathizers - most notably Sven Lund, the leader of the Swedish Framtidspartiet ('Future Party') that took control of the Kingdom of Sweden after a coup launched during the interwar years. The Kingdom of Prussia also becomes an ally of Morchenko and embraces its own revanchist brand of Zavtraism aimed at the other German states.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Lysenkoism”, named after one of its founders and main ideologues, Muscovite dictator Andrei Lysenko. False friend word to the OTL meaning of the term. Since Russia never united into a single unified tsardom in this timeline and Lysenko had the ambition of forming one via military might, this ideology is also called “tsarism” (especially in non-Russian circles).

The Sparrow Avengers universe: Fascism, its name and much of its OTL thought still exist in this timeline, though the movement is often matched or even surpassed in its level of infamy with the related ideologies of falangism and integralism. These two are notably more developed than in OTL, have taken on more sinister forms and have become a major threat after becoming far more tangible and well-defined political forces in this ATL. (Nazism is stillborn in this ATL's 20th century.) Notably though, the popular OTL slur of labelling any run-of-the-mill totalitarian government as “fascist” is less popular in this timeline, and is replaced by ATL slang terms, such as the punny English language slur “tothead” ('tot' carrying the double implication of “totalitarian” and “immature child”, or alternatively “totting up devious, sneaky, anti-democratic plans”).


OTL: An ideology promoting equal rights for women.

Look to the West: “Cythereanism”. Derived from the Greek mythological story that Aphrodite (Venus), symbolic of femininity, was born from the sea on the Greek island of Cythera.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Lusardism”. Named after Giovanna Lusardi, an early female rights and gender equality activist from northern Italy, considered by many to be the founder of modern feminism in this TL. On an everyday basis, feminists are mostly called “lusardites”. In many languages, early female feminists were often referred to by their detractors by various mocking names. In anglophone countries, the term “looserdames” (i.e. 'ladies acting more loosely, irresponsibly') and the far more pejorative “loserdames” were common in this context. In many Slavic-speaking countries, the derogatory term was husardistky ('goose-ardists', as in 'dumb gooses') and its various permutations. Eventually, the joke was on the detractors once suffrage for women became increasingly common worldwide…

Film noir / Noir (genre)

OTL: As much a style as it is a genre. Originally a cinematic term, describing stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. The style took some of its influences from films of the German expressionist school of the 1920s. Hollywood's classical film noir period lasted roughly from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. European produced noir also had something of a golden period from the late 1940s until the early 60s. Film noir works influential not only in cinema, but other mediums as well, and we can talk about a whole body of literary, cinematic, audio and other noir fiction, not necessarily all of it crime fiction. The later decades of the 20th century and the early 21st century saw various revivals or recontextualisations of the style, with these newer works often referred to by the umbrella term "neo-noir". This genre revival produces its own sets of noir esthetics, and also had an influence on science fiction works that adopted a noir undertone (e.g. Alphaville, Blade Runner, etc.).

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Gaslamp”, evoking the night time urban sceneries typical of the genre. In OTL, “gaslamp” was used as part of the rare genre moniker, "gaslamp fantasy". Initially coined in the 1990s as an alternative label to “steampunk”, it quickly became narrower in meaning, as its focus is more on urban fantasy and horror works with steampunk or noir elements and atmosphere. In the Sparrow Avengers ATL, there never was any “noir” genre/style label, so gaslamp has a primary association with noir-style works (literary, cinematic, etc.). As the writers and other creatives of later decades began to experiment with mixing gaslamp tropes with fantasy tropes, the ATL also developed its own equivalent to OTL gaslamp fantasy or noir-influenced science fiction.

Gaia hypothesis

OTL: A controversial 20th century theory about the overall structure of Earth's ecology. It purports Earth as a single complex organism. Dubbed after the Greek supreme goddess of Earth.

Cliveless World: “Bioteleology”.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Puraanaa Prithvee Kalpanaa”. Hindi for “Living Earth Hypothesis”.


OTL: Groups of young criminals banded together. Originally referred to any group of people going (or working) together. Derived from Middle English gang, from Old English gang (“a journey, a way, a passage”)

Chaos: “Bolzer”. Originally used for youth gangs based on football fans.

Gas chamber

OTL: Self-explanatory.

Look to the West: “Phlogisticateur”, originally referring only to those that used carbon dioxide and monoxide as the gases. Named for the fact that in phlogiston theory (which is refined rather than overturned in LTTW) carbon dioxide is said to be “phlogisticated air” (i.e., oxygen combined with carbon). The term later became more general, being used for execution chambers which work by creating a vacuum inside or using other toxic gases.


OTL: A general slang term used for people who show great interest in a certain hobby and are very knowledgable about it. Formerly more of a pejorative term for such persons, it has become more neutral in recent decades. The word comes from the English dialect geek, geck: “fool”, “freak”; derived in turn from the Middle Low German word geck. The root geck still survives in Dutch and Afrikaans gek: “crazy”, as well as some German dialects, and in the Alsatian word Gickeleshut: geek's hat, used in carnivals. The Swedish transitive verb gäcka (“to outsmart”, “to fool”) has the same root; att gäcka rättvisan (“to escape justice by clever tricks”) is a set expression.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Revi”. Derived from the French word ręveur, which means '(day)dreamer' or 'escapist'.


OTL: The Greek term γεωγραφία ('geographia') which can be translated literally as “Earth describe-write”.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Mundilogy”. A kitbash of the Latin mundus ('world') and Greek logos ('science', 'knowledge'). Literally “worldscience” or “science about the world”.

Gothic architecture

OTL: Coined during the Renaissance by Italian painter Giorgio Vasari and later by French philosopher and scholar Francois Rabelais. Both of them believed the architectural style popular prior to the emergence of the Renaissance one was of German or Germanic origin, specifically, an invention of the ancient Goths. Hence their preference for calling it “Gothic style”. Of note is that this was considered a pejorative term, with the Goths representing “Rome-sacking barbarians” from the point of view of Renaissance philosophers.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Cistercic”. Named after the Cistercian order of monks, who both in OTL and this timeline were instrumental in the construction of the first Gothic cathedrals and the popularization of their architectural style in other parts of Europe. Coined by a certain Parisian university scholar.

Grey goo

OTL: A hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves, a scenario known as ecophagy (“eating the environment”). Coined by molecular nanotechnology pioneer Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation.

Chaos: “Braunschleim”. German for “brown slime”.

Gregorian calendar

OTL: Named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced the new reformed Christian calendar to the western world by a decree on the 24th of February 1582.

Chaos: “Sistine calendar”. Named not after the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican (which is non-existent in this TL) but after an alternate Pope named Sixtus VI.


OTL: “Guillotine”, named after Dr Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, a French Revolutionary who suggested it as a humane means for the mass executions in the Revolution. He did not, however, invent it, and earlier models date back as far as the 15th century.

Look to the West: “Chirurgeon”. The French word for “surgeon” (referring to the clean cut of the blade).


OTL: “Gunpowder”, as in the powder that goes in guns, and earlier also “black powder” or just “powder”.

Agent of Byzantium: “Hellpowder”, reflecting the fact that its Franco-Saxon inventors originally used it in combination with elaborate charades to make it appear that they were demon hordes.

Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen: “Fireseed”.


OTL: Derived from the French term hélicoptère, meaning “device for enabling airplanes to rise perpendicularly,” thus “flying machine propelled by screws.” The idea was to gain lift from spiral aerofoils, and it didn't work. Used by Jules Verne and the Wright Brothers, the word transferred to helicopters in the modern sense when those were developed in the 1920s.

Lands of Red and Gold: “Rotorala”, from the terms rotor (short for rotator) and ala (Latin for “wing”).


OTL: “Helium”, from the Greek word helios, meaning “the sun”. This element was first discovered through spectroscopy of the sun in 1868, hence the name.

Decades of Darkness: “Solisium”, from Latin solis - “the sun”. As in OTL, the element was named after its discovery in solar spectroscopy, but the name derived from Latin rather than Greek.

Look to the West and The Two Georges: “Coronium”, from Latin corona, meaning “crown”. It was in the sun's corona (outer atmosphere) that helium was first discovered.


OTL: From the Greek words 'holo' + 'gram' (“whole writing/drawing”), a 3D representation on a 2D surface, usually made using lasers.

Look to the West: “Trisicon”. From the Greek tris + 'icon' (“three-picture”), referring to the three dimensions.


OTL: Self-explanatory (“watercraft that hover on an air cushion”).

Cliveless World: “Hoversleds”.

Decades of Darkness: “Luftkussenwagens”, at least in the German/Dutch hybrid called neudeutsch. Supposed to mean “air cushion cars”.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Skimmers”. They skim on the surface of water, obviously.

GURPS Alternate Earths I, Dixie: “GEV”. The meaning of the abbreviation is possibly a reference to “Ground Effect Vehicle”, though this means something slightly different IOTL.

Look to the West: “Amphloaters”, a portmanteau of “amphibious” and “floater”.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Airfloaters”.


OTL: “Hydrogen”. From the Greek word hydro-genes, meaning “water former” (as water is produced when it is burnt in air). First produced by Paracelsus in the 15th century, but not recognised as an element until the 1760s and named by Lavoisier in 1783.

Look to the West: “Aquaform”. The same meaning as the OTL word, but from Latin rather than Greek roots.


OTL: The part of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths just longer than red light and therefore just out of the visible spectrum, associated with thermal transmission (i.e. heat). The Latin prefix 'infra-' means 'below', i.e. 'below red' in the spectrum.

Look to the West: “Subrubric light”. 'Sub-' is an alternative Latin prefix for 'below', 'rubric' is from the Latin word 'ruber' meaning red. 'Rubric' in OTL is usually used to mean academic marking schemes, as annotations are traditionally done in red ink.

Internet / World Wide Web

OTL: Abbreviation of “Inter-connected network” or “International network”. Self-explanatory in the case of the World Wide Web.

Ace Combat: In the alternate world of this game series, the equivalent is the so-called “Electrosphere”.

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “Macroserv”. It is used strictly for military purposes and lacks a civilian version.

Chaos: “Weltsystem”. Welt is German for 'world' and “system” refers to the computer networks. (See above)

The Course of Human Events: “Geomesh”. Self-explanatory.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Lace”. Invented by the British, who also coined the term.

GURPS Alternate Earths I, Shikaku-Mon: “Tapestry”

Non-AH: Firefly calls its equivalent computer network “The Cortex”.

TL-191: After the End: “ComboNet”, since computers are known as “combines”.

Jet Stream

OTL: The term has been cobbled together from the following English terms: 1.) “Jet” (noun), defined as “a stream of a liquid, gas, or small solid particles forcefully shooting forth from a nozzle, orifice” etc., derived from the French word jeter ('to throw', 'to thrust'). 2.) “Stream” (noun), denoting “a body of water flowing in a channel or watercourse, as a river, rivulet, or brook; a steady current in water, as in a river or the ocean; any flow of water or other liquid or fluid; a current or flow of air, gas, or the like; a beam or trail of light; a continuous flow or succession of anything: a stream of words; prevailing direction”. Derived from the ancient Germanic term straumaz ('current', 'river').

The Course of Human Events: “Aerocourse”. Aero is Greek, related to the word aer, meaning simply “air”. This is combined with the English version of the French term cors, which means either “run, running” or “flow (of a river)”. This was in turn derived from the Latin word cursus, stemming from currere - “to run”.


OTL: “Laser”. An acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. Nowadays not much of an acronym, used more often as a simple noun.

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “EMSEL”. English acronym for “Electromagnetic Stimulation Emission of Light”.

The Fox and the Lillies: “GESEL” (GEnerator of Stimulated Emission of Light).

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “SOLUR”. French for SOurce LUmineuse du Régiment, meaning “Regimented Light Source”.

Look to the West: “Synchlamp” - as laser light is called “Synchlight” (synchronised light) in this timeline.

Monarchy World: “CLIG”. English acronym of “Coherent LIght Generator”.

Non-AH: Ian M. Banks' The Culture series of books has the “CREWS” (Coherent Radiation Emission Weapon Systems).

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “STIMOCOLIEM” (“STImulated MOnochromatic COherent LIght EMitter”). Commonly abbreviated to “stimo” in colloquial speech.

Tellus: “Alses”. The acronym isn't explained in detail.

Worldwar: Humans adopt the Race word for laser light - “skelkwank”. A laser emitter is called a “ftaskelkwank”.

Left and Right (Politics)

OTL: The terms “left-” and “right-wing” stem from the early days of the French Revolution, when the deputies of the National Assembly sat in a hemicycle, with the more radical and progressive deputies on the King's left and the more conservative and reactionary deputies on the King's right. Because of this, it is best to avoid using the terms in TLs with no French Revolution, set before the French Revolution, or with an early POD and a significantly different French Revolution.

Look to the West: “Cobrist”, “argentist” and “doradist” describe left, centre and right respectively. This comes from the politics of the United Provinces of South America, which originally had the three political groupings of progressive Colorado (red), centrist Blanco (white) and conservative Amarillo (yellow), each taking its name from one colour of the UPSA flag. However, after these parties started shifting around from their starting positions, political thinkers needed terms to describe those starting positions independent of the parties, and they used the metallic equivalents of the colours in Spanish–cobre (copper), argent (silver) and dorado (gold). The centre of the political spectrum is called the 'argentus', and a political party that holds the centre ground and draws majority of swing voters is said to 'straddle the argentus'.

The Fox and the Lillies: The history of political movements and predominant political ideologies is quite different in this world - for one, it is more of a four-fold world of politics instead of the simpler left-right polarity classification of OTL. There is no historical precedent for the terms “left” and “right” in politics. The rough analogues of leftists and rightists are usualy known under the terms “solidarists” and “traditionalists”, respectively.

Machine gun

OTL: Stems from the fact that the weapon uses an automatic mechanism to reload itself after each shot, initially using an external power source and later the force of the previous shot. First recorded 1870: prior to becoming the general term, early machine guns were usually referred to by individual names after the inventor or company, such as the Maxim gun. Their predecessors from earlier periods (guns that shot multiple shots by other means) were usually called volley guns, and the French name for machine gun (mitrailleuse) is a holdover from these, meaning “grapeshot shooter”. Names in other languages for the weapon are usually derived from either the English or French term, but in Russian and related languages the word Avtomat (“automatic”) is used instead.

Decades of Darkness: “Cylinder gun”. The name is derived from the cartridges used in the weapon.

The Guns of the South: Down-time Confederates from 1867, before the invention of the machine gun, are confronted with one being used by time travellers from 2014. They describe it as an “endless repeater”, comparing it to the repeating rifles they are familiar with but noting how it never seems to run out of bullets due to the belt feed.

Look to the West: “Cyclogun” is used for early rotary versions similar to the OTL Gatling gun. True machine guns are called “belt guns” or sometimes “cingular guns”, abbreviated “cinguns” (from Latin cingulus 'belt').

Manga / Manhua

OTL: Japanese for “playful images”. It is less a genre, and more an artistic style. Manhua is simply manga in Chinese. “Anime” is short for animashun, which is simply “Animation” in Japanese.

Chaos: “Wan Tu”. Chinese for “ten thousand pictures”. Not exactly the same as OTL manga/anime, but fills a similar role.

Molotov cocktails

OTL: Invented at some point in the first half of the 20th century, these simple, improvised, makeshift incendiary bombs are produced by filling an empty bottle or other glass or ceramic container with gasoline and alcohol and equipping it with a wick or rag for ignition. Though first used on a greater scale during the Spanish Civil War, the name was coined later, by Finnish soldiers fighting the Soviets during the Winter war (mocking Vyacheslav Molotov, the then Foreign Minister of the USSR). Molotov cocktails were also used in various anti-Nazi uprisings of WWII, the anti-Soviet Budapest Uprising of 1956 and have become an iconic symbol of urban guerilla warfare or violent rioting in the popular consciousness over the decades…

Southern Victory (TL-191): “Featherston Fizz”, dubbed in a similarly mocking fashion after Jake Featherston (the 1930s/1940s leader of the Confederate States of America and ATL analogue of Adolf Hitler).

Swarm on the Somme: “Teddy Tonics” or “Roosevelt Rum”. Used en masse by the US national guard (encouraged and partly led by former POTUS T. Roosevelt), which fought the Grex swarms after they crossed the Pacific and landed in California, beginning their invasion of the North American mainland.

Multiple personality disorder

OTL: Self-explanatory. The modern preferred clinical term is “dissociative identity disorder”, but this is not widely known. Often mistakenly called “schizophrenia”, which is actually a different general term for disorders involving interrupted thought processes. The confusion arises from the fact that schizophrenia comes from the Greek skhizein (“to split”) and phren (“mind”)–people think 'split mind'='split personality' when it actually means `split (interrupted) thoughts`.

Look to the West: “Legion Syndrome”, named after the Biblical story of the man possessed by the spirits of many demons who had them exorcised by Jesus Christ.


OTL: A very nearly massless subatomic particle, famous for interacting with matter so weakly, hence its Italian name meaning “little neutral one”. It is also generated as one of the major components of nuclear reactions.

Once More Unto the Chappa'ai: “Micron”. From mikros, the Greek term for 'small'.


OTL: “Nihilism” originates from the Latin word Nihil, which means “does not exist”. It was first coined by the 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Jacobi, who used the word to negatively characterize transcendental idealism. It would be later popularized by Russian author Ivan Turgenev, in his novel Fathers and Sons.

The Time of Crows: “Dalism” is the term that came to be used to describe the TL's versions of Nihilism. The term comes from William Dales, a figure of the TL, who espoused such beliefs, following the death of his family to the Reaping Plague.


OTL: “Nitrogen”. From the Greek word nitron-genes, meaning “saltpetre former”. A common alternative is the French term azote, derived from the Greek azotos - “lifeless” (as animals cannot live in nitrogen alone). Another early term referring to this was “mephitic air”. All these names were coined in the 1770s.

Look to the West: “Illuftium”, from the Swedish illaluktande luft - “foul air”. Named by Swedish chemist Carl Scheele both in OTL and LTTW, but only recognised internationally in LTTW.

Nuclear power

OTL: As with nuclear weapons below, comes from the fact that the reaction involves splitting atomic nuclei. Earlier on (from 1920s speculation up to the 1950s and 60s reality) it was more commonly termed 'atomic power', and the phrase 'splitting the atom' was often used.

Look to the West: Nuclear reactors are referred to as “Paradox engines”, based on one classically educated scientist's quip that “splitting the atom” is an oxymoron or paradox as the word “atom” means “indivisible”. LTTW also uses 'carytic' as an adjective equivalent to 'nuclear' (from karyos, the Greek word for 'nut', which is used in OTL to mean nucleus in another sense when classifying cells as eukaryotic or prokaryotic).

The Limpid Stream: “Atomkraft”. Derived from the German expression.

GURPS Alternate Earths I, Gernsback: “Atomic power”.

The Cusanus Game: “Maxwell power”, named after James Clerk Maxwell.

Nuclear weapons

OTL: “Atomic/A-bomb”. Early term, derived from “splitting the atom” as a description of nuclear fission. “Hydrogen/H-bomb” was coined specifically in contrast to describe fusion weapons using hydrogen as the fusion fuel. “Nuclear bomb” got its name from the fact that the reactions involved splitting atomic nuclei.

A Brother to Dragons: “Atomics”.

Down in the Bottomlands: “Starbomb”. From the fact that nuclear reactions also happen in stars.

Look to the West: “Threshold bomb”. Refers to the critical mass of fissile material required before nuclear reactions can take place. An area hit by such a weapon is said to be 'threshed' in the same way we say 'nuked' in OTL.

Ready for the Fatherland: “Sunbomb”. Basically the same idea as Down in the Bottomlands.

Southern Victory (TL-191): “Uranium bomb” and similar, named after their fission fuel.

Worldwar: “Explosive-metal bomb”. Confusingly sometimes treated as a human term based on a simplistic understanding, and sometimes the Race's own term.


OTL: A philosophy supposedly subscribing to an 'objective' point of view.

Chaos: “Veritism”, derived from Latin 'veritas' (truth). Although there are some differences.


OTL: Oxygen, coined by Antoine Lavoisier in 1777, from the Greek oxys-genes, “acid-former” due to the (incorrect) contemporary belief that all acids contained oxygen.

Look to the West: “Elluftium”, derived from Swedish eldluft (“fire air”). In both OTL and LTTW, Swedish chemist Carl Scheele coined the term before Lavoisier, but in OTL his work was ignored.

Particle accelerator

OTL: A piece of scientific equipment, usually very large and ring-shaped, used to accelerate particles (as the name implies) and collide them with each other to study the decay products and thus learn more about subatomic structure and physics in general. A common nickname is “atom smasher”. The terms cyclotron and synchotron refer to specific types of particle accelerator but are sometimes mistakenly used as a generic label by the media.

Look to the West: “Gordian Ring” or “Ring of Gordias”. A classical reference to the Gordian Knot, the complex knot which Alexander the Great supposedly 'solved' simply by slicing through it with his sword. The idea behind the analogy is that scientists are similarly using a very direct, violent and destructive method to solve a complex problem: deducing subatomic structure by banging atoms together until they break.

Photography / Photographs

OTL: A term consisting of the Greek words photos ('light') and graphé ('drawing', 'sketching') - thus “photography” ('drawing with light'). Not all OTL languages use the Greek term though: For instance, in Hungarian, a single photograph is known as a fénykép ('light picture') and photography is fényképezés (lit. 'light-picturing'). Also, an early popular term for photography was “Daguerrotype”, after an early French photography pioneer named Daguerre.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Svetzam”. An internationally used contraction of the original Czech term světlozáznam (lit. 'light recording'), since Czechs invented photography in this TL.

Look to the West: “Asimicony”, later worn down to “Asimcony”. An individual photo is called an “asimcon”. From the Greek words asimi ('silver') and icon ('picture'), referring to the fact that early photographic methods used silver salts that turned dark on exposure to light.


OTL: First recorded in 1965, but was said to be in use at the time. One of the tiny dots that make up the representation of an image in a computer's memory. Exact etymology unclear, but possibly derived from 'picture element' or 'picture cell'.

Look to the West: “Iota”, from the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet and proverbially used to refer to a very small but significant part of a whole (“not one iota of difference”), stemming from a schism in the Church over the spelling of a word concerning Christ's nature with or without an iota.


OTL: A Greek word meaning simply “something formed”, the vagueness of the term reflecting its many definitions. In physics and chemistry, “plasma” is a state of matter similar to gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized. Heating a gas may ionize its molecules or atoms (reduce or increase the number of electrons in them), thus turning it into a plasma, which contains charged particles: positive ions and negative electrons or ions. Ionization can be induced by other means, such as strong electromagnetic field applied with a laser or microwave generator, and is accompanied by the dissociation of molecular bonds, if present. This is the definition used in this article, but note plasma can also mean other things, such as various biological fluids.

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “Sonnematerial”. German term, literally meaning “sun material”.


OTL: A word meaning “flexible”, from the Latin plasticus.

Look to the West: “Pseulac”, a portmanteau of “pseudo-lacquer”, stemming from the fact that the first synthetic plastics in TTL were marketed as an alternative to lacquer.


OTL: An artificially synthesied radioactive element used for many applications, particularly nuclear weapons. Eventually named thematically after the then planet as it was two places down the periodic table from uranium (already known) and neptunium (which had just been discovered). Previous proposed names were 'hesperium' by its discoverer Enrico Fermi (as in the western Isles of the Hesperides in Greek mythology 'beyond former knowledge', compare the discovery of the New World) and 'ultimium' or 'extremium' because it was inaccurately thought at the time to be the last element on the periodic table.

Look to the West: “Hesperium”, for the same reason Fermi chose the name in OTL.

Timeline-191 “Jovium” in the Confederate States (which went the other way on the planetary order from uranium) and “churchillium” in the UK.

Worldwar series: “Explosive metal”, confusingly sometimes treated as a Race term and sometimes as a human one.

Pop music

OTL: A term that originally derives from an abbreviation of “popular”. This is a genre of popular music which originated in its modern form in the 1950s, deriving from rock and roll. The terms popular music and pop music are often used interchangeably, even though the former is a description of music which is popular (and can include any style). As a genre, pop music is very eclectic, often borrowing elements from other styles including urban, dance, rock, Latin and country. Nonetheless, there are core elements which define pop. Such include generally short-to-medium length songs, written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), as well as the common employment of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and catchy hooks. So-called “pure pop” music, such as power pop, features all these elements, using electric guitars, drums and bass for instrumentation. In the case of such music, the main goal is usually that of being pleasurable to listen to, rather than having much artistic depth. Pop music is generally thought of as a genre which is commercially recorded and desires to have a mass audience appeal.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Snap”. One of the major differences with the OTL development of pop music is that “snap music” didn't come into being as a repurposed offshoot of rock and roll music. Instead, it was born as a continuation and eventual derivative of the timeline's interwar and 1940s dance music, which was in turn based on an ATL equivalent of big band or swing styles. The name of the genre originated either from the snapping of fingers done by dancing couples (a cultural fad during the timeline's early 1950s) or from references to the “snappy tunes, snappy moves” that became emblematic of the style's earliest period. Snap gradually became as complex and hardly definable in its variety as OTL pop. Until the mid-to-late alternate 1960s, snap was viewed primarily as a dance music genre, but a new generation of bands worldwide steered it into a more universal and listening-driven genre afterward, making it more similar in tone and function to OTL pop. Ironically enough, the timeline has a modern musical genre known as “pop music”, but this is a false friends term. “Pop music” became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, when several European arthouse bands started creating something similar to early OTL world music. These bands mixed together electronic and symphonical musical pieces in order to create immersive, ambient-based instrumental tracks. Eventually, one of the early representatives of the genre, a Polish-Transcarpathian band, included samples of Orthodox Christian and Greek Catholic chants, borrowed from a religious album published in their own country, into their tracks. Though originally meant as more of a joke than anything else, songs utilizing this combination of ambient music and chanting became insanely popular and formed a genre of “esotheric music” similar to the works of OTL artists like Enya, Karl Jenkins, ERA, etc. The moniker “pop” comes from the fact that Orthodox and Greek Catholic priests are commonly referred to as “pop[e]s” in most central and east European countries.


OTL: The name means “before actinium”, because actinium is one of the major components of its radioactive decay.

Once More Unto the Chappa'ai: “Meissenerium”.

Psychology and Psychiatry

OTL: The word psychology, from the Greek “ψυχή-λογος” (psukhē-logos) “soul-study”, is recorded as early as the seventeenth century but did not become well known until the nineteenth. Psychology refers to the study of the mind and mental disorders for its own sake, or for the good of society as a whole, while psychiatry (the -iatry suffix means 'medical treatment' in Greek) is specifically about the treatment of mental disorders, and tends to emphasise studying the physical structure of the brain more than pure psychology. However, the two are often confused by the general public, media etc. An older popular term from the nineteenth century is 'alienism' (a practitioner of which is an 'alienist') and these terms often show up in steampunk-set timelines.

Look to the West: In LTTW 'alienism' and 'alienist' are still the preferred terms. 'Alienistic cameo' is the term used to mean 'psychological profile'.

Punk music

OTL: A rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. Punk bands created fast, hard-edged music, typically with short songs, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produced recordings and distributed them through informal channels. The term “punk” was first used in relation to rock music by some American critics in the early 1970s, to describe garage bands and their devotees. A “punk” is a tool for starting fires, connoting destructive ends pursued with careful, methodical (and cheap and slightly disgusting) means. Punk became a major cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom. For the most part, punk took root in local scenes that tended to reject association with the mainstream. An associated punk subculture emerged, expressing youthful rebellion and characterized by distinctive styles of clothing and adornment and a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Rubble music”, or just “rubble” for short. Musicians and fans of the genre are called “rubs”, “rubos”, “rubb(l)ers” and “stone-breakers”. The genre evolved between the mid 1960s and early 1970s from the timeline's pre-existing genre of “hooligan music”. However, “rubble”'s earliest roots can be traced back all the way back to the late 1940s. Back then, the name of this genre originally referred to the rubble of European cities, commonly seen in the years following the alternate Second World War. Musicians would sit on these ruins and sing mournful, contemplative, but also cheerful songs - sometimes a cappela, sometimes accompanied by basic instruments. But “rubble music” found its definite ideological footing and iconography in the alternate 1960s. Due to the later invention of nuclear reactors in this timeline, the then new and dimly understood threat of atomic power sent shockwaves throughout global society during the 1960s. Apocalyptic, existentialist, nihilist and transhumanist themes became very common and virtually defined most early rubble music. Subject matter of most songs included scathing sociopolitical commentary, often mocking the failings of the human race throughout the 20th century - including totalitarian regimes (fascism, falangism, integralism, communism) and the phenomennon of chaotic continent-wide balkanizations after the First World War, which the rubble songwriters dubbed “the failure of both the concepts of empire and the nation-state”. Some of the rubble bands even specialized in making fun of totalitarian imagery and ideologies (in the vein of some OTL rock acts, e. g. Laibach's "totalitarianised cover versions of songs"). As the years went on and the genre branched out into various different directions, the formerly grim subject matter of rubble music was relegated into just one specific subgenre of the rubble movement, called “Ashcloud” (referring to visions of “human civilization and nature burnt into irradiated cinders”). The clothing subculture associated with rubble music has parallels with OTL punk in that it was “Do It Yourself” in nature. However, the stylized fashions of “rubblers” were less extravagant and more utilitarian in tone, often invoking industrial, technological and post-apocalyptic scavenger themes. Common modified clothes of “rubblers” included boilersuits, gasmasks, tattered military uniforms, pilot jackets and aviator hats, and firefighter gear.

TL-191: After the End: “Fabrikapunk” or “Fabrika-punk”. Musically, it also shares similarities with grunge and folk-rock. The folk-rock and world music influences are apparent particulaly among this timeline's Austro-Hungarian and Balkan musical acts. Fabrika-punk's original visual esthetic is actually rather similar to that of the OTL SFAF style/genre of 'dieselpunk' (as hinted by the fabrika- prefix, which means “factory” in several European languages).

Quantum theory

OTL: A theory that revolutionised physics and replaced classical theory, its chief early achievement being that it explained the 'Ultraviolet Catastrophe' problem. “Quantum” is a Latin word related to “quantity” and refers to the fact that the theory states that energy can only exist in discrete quanta or “packets” of a fixed amount, there is not a continuum of gradual increases in energy. Unlike classical theory, quantum theory also demonstrates that the energy of light is dependent on wavelength rather than (as common sense might suggest) amplitude because of this limitation.

Look to the West: “Inversion theory”. While the theory itself is framed a bit differently, the core concept is the same. The name comes from how physicists noted that the new theory reversed two of the previous assumptions of classical physics: classical physics said that atoms were indivisible and energy was made up of endlessly divisible parts, while quantum says that atoms can be split (though not indefinitely) and energy only exists in fixed discrete amounts that cannot be further divided.


OTL: “Radar”. An acronym for “RAdio Detection And Ranging”.

The Britwank Empire: “RADLON”. An acronym for “RADio-wave LOcation and Navigation”.

Cliveless World: “ELOR”. English acronym for “Echo-LOcation by Radio”.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “SWEDS”. Acronym for “Spark Wave Echo Detection System”.

Look to the West: “Photrack”, a portmanteau of “Photel” (the term in TTL for radio) and “Tracking”. (As far as pronunciation goes, the term rhymes with 'coat rack'.)

Monarchy World: “ADREA”. Acronym for “Atkinson's Directional Radiation Emitter Array”.

Non-AH: One Star Wars novel featuring a civilisation at a similar level of development to modern Earth refers to radar as the more literal “lightbounce system”. Also, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series and its spinoffs calls its analogue of planet-based and space-based radar “DRADIS” (according to an early script, it means “Direction, RAnge, and DIStance”).

Southern Victory (TL-191): “Y-range” or “Y-ranging”. Derived from “wireless ranging”.


OTL: Radiation is technically a term for any transmission of electromagnetic energy, but it is usually associated with the harmful radiation (alpha and beta particles and gamma rays) from nuclear reactions.

Look to the West: In LTTW the electromagnetic spectrum is referred to generally as “light”, as it was recognised early on that all forms of electromagnetic radiation are part of a continuum. “Oeculight” (short for oecumenolight) is sometimes used to specifically refer to the whole thing, “Eigenlight” to visible light only, “Infralight” to all invisible wavelengths longer than visible light, “Paralight” to all invisible wavelengths shorter than visible light, and “Cryptolight” for both infralight and paralight together. Because damaging radiation is all paralight (UV, gamma, X-rays etc.), it is sometimes called “deleterious paralight” or “del-para” for short. This also suggests a connection with nuclear reactors, as in TTL these are called “paradox engines”, but this is just a coincidence.


OTL: “Radio”. Based on the verb Latin verb “to radiate”. An earlier common term was “wireless (telegraphy)”. Funk is the German term for two-sided radio communication, derived from a verb meaning “flash”. Rundfunk (“wide-flashing/“wide-radiating”) is the term for radio broadcasting or a radio broadcaster. Czech and Slovak have a similar indigenous term, rozhlas (“wide-announcing”), while radios are still referred to as radios (rádiá, though a radio set can be called a rozhlasový prijímač, i.e. “wide-announcing receiver”).

Cliveless World: “Radiant”. Derived from the term 'radiant telegraphy', this timeline's version of wireless telegraphy.

Decades of Darkness: “Funk”. The same as OTL's German word, but used far more globally, including North America.

Look to the West: “Photelegraphy” or “Photel” for short. A contraction of “Photonic Telegraphy”, meaning 'far-writing with light'.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Barq Mouj”. Persian for 'Lightning Wave'.

Isaac's Empire: “Hermopalamai”. Named after Hermes, the Greek god of messengers. 'Hermes' Device', literally.

Non-AH: The Zhirrzh race in Timothy Zahn's Conquerors series refer to all radio transmitters as “Elderdeath weapons”, as radio waves cause harm to their Elders (post-death spirits projected from a preserved telepathic organ, basically ghosts that really exist). Also, the remake of Battlestar Galactica simply calls radios “wireless” (like the once-popular OTL term).

Southern Victory (TL-191): “Wireless”. Usually referred to as such.

What Madness Is This : “Talkiebox”.

Rally racing

OTL: “Rallying”, aka “rally racing”, is a form of automobile racing that takes place on public or private roads with modified production or specially built road-legal cars. This motorsport is distinguished by running not on a circuit, but instead in a point-to-point format in which participants and their co-drivers drive between set control points (special stages), leaving at regular intervals from one or more start points. Rallies may be won by pure speed within the stages or alternatively by driving to a predetermined ideal journey time within the stages. The term “rally”, as a branch of motorsport, probably dates from the first Monte Carlo Rally of January 1911. Until the late 1920s, few if any other events used the term, but after that, it gradually caught on.

An Alternate History of The Kingdom of Hawaii: “Countryride racing” (“countryriding” for short). Particularly reminescent of the cross-country on-road/off-road sort of OTL rallying, with very European/Scandinavian-style rules. And unlike in OTL, it is a very popular motorsport in North America (to the point that one of the most famous countryride car legends is an American-built model, the Johnson-Sperry Pioneer).

(Theory of) Relativity

OTL: The term “theory of relativity” was based on the expression “relative theory” (German: Relativtheorie) used by Max Planck in 1906, who emphasized how the theory uses the principle of relativity. In the discussion section of the same paper Alfred Bucherer used for the first time the expression “theory of relativity” (German: Relativitätstheorie).

The Britwank Empire: “Invariance theory”. Derived from the fact that the speed of light is invariant (i.e., not relative to anything else).

The Cusanus Game: “General theory of gravitation” (Allgemeine Gravitationstheorie), discovered by no one lesser than Gauß and Riemann, apparently.

Refining (of oil)

OTL: Self-explanatory.

Chaos: “Delication”.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Purgation” or “purging”.


OTL: The first true revolver — a flintlock — was made by Elisha Collier in 1818. The percussion cap revolver was invented by Samuel Colt in 1836. This weapon became known as the Colt Paterson. The first cartridge revolvers were produced around 1856 by Smith and Wesson. The original name for the new type of firearm was “revolving gun”. The abbrieviation “revolver” quickly caugt on and is universally used to this day.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Rotator”. A very similar term, denoting the 'rotating' of the cylinder, in contrast to the synonymous 'revolving'. Besides the more scientific term, a common word for a revolver in this TL is paneira - derived from the surname of its inventor, the Portuguese gunsmith Adão Paneira (this is similar to how a lot of early revolvers are still colloquialy called “colts” in many current OTL languages).

Rock & Roll and Rock music

OTL: Rock music is a genre of popular music that originated as “rock and roll” in the United States in the 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. It has its roots in 1940s' and 1950s' rock and roll, itself heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical sources. Musically, rock has centered around the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with bass guitar and drums. Typically, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature utilizing a verse-chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse and common musical characteristics are difficult to define. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political in emphasis. The dominance of rock by white, male musicians has been seen as one of the key factors shaping the themes explored in rock music. Rock places a higher degree of emphasis on musicianship, live performance, and an ideology of authenticity than pop music.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Hook & Hoodlum” and “Hooligan”. Commonly abbreviated to “Hool”, more rarely “Hook” or “Hood”. “Hook & Hoodlum” began some time in the 1950s, starting out as an informal and scattered offshoot of the then existing forms of “snap music”. Said offshoot was comprised of a multitude of disparate “household bands” of young musicians, most of them amateur or semi-professional. The only thing they had in common was experimenting with the instrumental accompaniment to “snap” musical dance numbers. The origin story behind the new genre's name is conflicted, but it apparently came about this way : Adults, displeased by the mucking around and silly antics of the mostly young musicians, dubbed them and their bands “hoodlums” (a single such musician being a “hoodlum”, or “hood” for short). In turn, the moniker “hook” was supposedly coined by the early fans and admirers of the new musical style, confirming that they “got really hooked for this new kind of music”. Alternatively, some say that the moniker has slightly more vulgar origins, referring to the slang phrase “I have it on the hook” (i.e. I don't care about it), which was popular back then among European and American youth. Early Hook & Hoodlum bands were referred to as “rhythm sets”, to distinguish them from “melody (or melodic) sets”, such as traditional string quartets. This had led to the term “set” being a popular alternative term for “band” in the timeline's musical popculture. However, it eventually went out of fashion by the early 1980s. “Hook & Hoodlum” gradually evolved into the even more dynamic, carefree and raunchier “Hooligan music”. Hooligan itself became the basis for several later modern music genres, including “rubble”, “debris”, “vandal” and “goth”.

Science fiction

OTL: A tricky-to-define term, but generally describing speculative stories set in an imagined future setting that try to use a rational and scientific (rather than fantastic) approach. However, definitions of science fiction vary a lot. Although examples of what we would now call science fiction go back thousands of years, it was not recognised as a genre until the 19th century. The OTL term was apparently coined in 1851, but took a while to catch on: in the late 19th century “scientific romance” was the more popular term. In 1954 the trendy abbreviation “sci-fi” (by analogy to “hi-fi”) was coined and was popular for a while, but became associated with 'pulpier' thriller settings by the public and thus many science fiction fans now reject it and prefer “SF”. However, “SF” is also sometimes used to mean “speculative fiction”, a broader modern label that also takes in fantasy and other genres.

Look to the West: Somewhat different terminology and dividing lines between genres are used in LTTW. “Scientific romance” = OTL “science fiction” (but with an emphasis on futuristic settings—aliens landing in the present day would not be put in this category), “fantastic romance” = OTL “fantasy” and some “horror” (settings involving supernatural elements other than mainstream religious ones) and “speculative romance” = OTL “alternate history”, but a broader category drawing in the aforementioned aliens landing in the present day. Speculative romance is often considered the most ‘realist’ school of the three, focusing on how strange events change the world as it actually is (or was), not how the author wants it to be to make a point, as is often the case in scientific romance. All three schools are collectively referred to as ‘paracthonic romance’ (from Greek para-cthon ‘beyond the world’).

Ska music

OTL: A music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues. It is characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the upbeat. In the early 1960s, ska was the dominant music genre of Jamaica and was popular with British mods. Later it became popular with many skinheads. Music historians typically divide the history of ska into three periods: The original Jamaican scene of the 1960s (First Wave), the English 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s (Second Wave), and the third wave ska movement, which started in the 1980s (Third Wave) and rose to popularity in the US in the 1990s.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Debris.” A peculiarly related cousin of the timeline's “rubble music”. Despite originating in the early “hooligan music” scene much like rubble, debris music has, oddly enough, fairly predominant jazz roots. Though regarded by many during its beginnings as a close cousin of rubble music, it generally focuses on more upbeat subject matter than rubble, and has a very carefree, almost dadaist approach to playing music. Even the coining of the term for this genre was meant to distance it from comparisons with rubble - the creators of the term arguing that “debris” has a nicer, softer, “French-ier”, artsier, friendlier pronunciation. Hence why “debris is the nicer, more optimistic cousin of rubble”. Also, while similar in most respects to OTL ska, “debris music” is actually rather hard to explain as a genre. A more accurate description of it from an OTL perspective would be “a combination of humourously charged folk-rock and British/European Second Wave and Third Wave Ska, sometimes with accompanying dadaist performance art or stunts”. Also, unlike in OTL, where ska reached Europe from the Caribbean, the ATL equivalent of OTL Caribbean ska evolved completely separately from the ATL's debris music. Later derivatives and offshoots of debris music have ramped up the comedic undertones and witty lyrics of the genre even further, eventually earning the moniker “bricklayer music”.


OTL: “Sonar”. An acronym for “SOund Navigation And Ranging”. As with “laser” and “radar”, this is nowadays not much of an acronym and is used more often as a simple noun.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Etiroli Puthaiyal”. Tamil for “Echo Location”. Abbreviated as “Etiroli”.

Look to the West: “Echotrack”. As well as being descriptive, named because it rhymes with TTL's term for radar, “Photrack”, and sonar can be considered an undersea analogue to radar.

The Britwank Empire: “DALOS”. An acronym for “Directional Acoustic LOcation System”.

Stockholm syndrome

OTL: This psychological phenomennon is named after the bank robbery and hostage crisis that happened on the 23-28th August 1973 in the Norrmalmstorg suburb of Stockholm in Sweden.

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “Hessian Syndrome”. Named after the Hessian prisoners who later joined forces with the United States during the Revolutionary War.


OTL: The English term is derived from the Latin words sub- (prefix meaning 'under' or 'below') and marina (adj 'sea'). In other words, an “undersea (vessel)”. Note that the term submarine as an adjective to mean 'underwater' dates back to the 1640s, but it was first recorded as a noun (to describe an underwater boat) in 1899. In German, the term is translated literally to Unterseeboot ('Undersea boat') - U-Boot being the far more commonly used abbreviation.

Decades of Darkness: “Sea Wolf”.

GURPS Alternate Earths II, Cornwallis: “Podvodnii”, from Russian.

Look to the West: The word “submarine (boat)” is still used, but only for unarmed civilian versions used for things like deep-sea exploration. Armed military versions are usually called “ironsharks” in English, a translation of the German term Eisenhaifisch. The semantic distinction between civilian and military is in part due to arms-limitation treaties, and is comparable to how in OTL Winston Churchill was adamant that German submarines always be called “U-boats” to create the idea of a moral distinction in the public's minds.

Pax Napoleonica: “Sous-marin”. Identical to the OTL French term, but more prevalent in other languages as well, thanks to French geopolitical dominance in this TL.

The Fox and the Lillies: The first practical military submarines (ones that were capable of actively attacking by firing torpedoes) were invented pretty much concurrently with the first practical fighter aircraft - i.e. “aerohunters”. Because of the high popularity of the term used for fighter planes, the term coined for their underwater counterparts was “hydrohunters” or “aquahunters”. Both caught on quickly and have been used ever since, including their (often jocular) jargon abbreviations - e.g. “hy-ho-s”, “eych-eychs”, etc. Some particularly large subs (equivalent to OTL's largest nuclear submarines) tend to be called “warwhales”. The analogues of OTL midget submarines are commonly known as “sea foxes”. Russian countries with a naval tradition call their military submarines metalkula (a colloquial contraction of 'metal shark').


OTL: “Tank” (used in English, Russian, etc.). Derived from the British Army using an unassuming code word to suggest the construction work was of water tanks. Some languages created their own unique terms for this type of armoured vehicle, e.g. the French term Char (de combat), translatable as 'battlewagon / battle chariot', or the Italian Carro armato, which means literally 'armoured carriage/vehicle'. Spanish and Asturian use the variant Carro/Carru de combate. Panzer (German) and Pancer (Polish) were created as a contraction of Panzerkampfwagen, meaning 'armoured fighting wagon/vehicle'. The modern Polish term is czołg ('crawler'), derived from the verb czołgać się ('to crawl'). Modern Hungarian occasionally refers to the vehicle by the terms harckocsi ('fighting-carriage') and páncélos ('armourclad'). The unbuilt Austro-Hungarian Burstyn tank was referred to as a Motorgeschütz - 'motor cannon' - by its inventor. In Svahili, a tank is a kifaru ('rhinoceros') and in Arabic, it is known as a dabbāba (after a type of medieval siege engine designed to shelter men who are digging a hole in enemy fortifications).

A Brother to Dragons: “Chariot”.

Ad Astra Per Aspera: “Stahlkast”. German for “steel-cast”.

Chaos: Tanks were invented by Germany and dubbed “Walzen”, i. e. “steamrollers”. The term was invented for concealing the true purpose of the project (just like the British did in OTL). Also somewhat appropriate, since this TL's primitive steam-driven tanks aren't much faster than actual steamrollers and are described as big, hulking, almost locomotive-like vehicles.

Cliveless World: “Cossack”. Invented and first used in the Kazakh Civil War of this TL, hence the name.

The Course of Human Events: “Lorry”.

Decades of Darkness: “Arlac”. A contraction of “ARmoured LAnd Cruiser”.

Dominion of Southern America: “Armored Steam Tractor”, commonly abbreviated to “AST”. A colloquial term is “Iron Rhino”.

Fight and Be Right: “Hengst”. It means “stallion” in German. The evolution of the tank is rather different in this timeline, coming mostly from steadily up-gunned armoured cars rather than the trench-crossers of OTL. Hence the name “Hengst”, which happens to be the name of a particularly ubiquitous German design. The British come at things from a different route, as the Royal Artillery experiment with mounting guns on steam tractors to improve manouvrability. This leads to an even more pronounced Infrantry/Cruiser tank split than in OTL. Russians translate the term as “Жеребец” (Zherebets, Russian for “Stallion”). The PZ acronym of their famous Mikulin-Beriev PZ-6 model means Pekhotniy zherebets 6 (“Infantry stallion 6”).

For Want of A Nail: “Terramobiles”.

Gurkani Alam (Mughal World): “Elephant”. Influenced by the stronger global standing of the nations of India in this TL.

Look to the West: The English use the term “Protgun”, a contraction of “protected gun”. The French use Artillerie Blindé, meaning “armoured artillery”. The Russians use Armart, a contraction of the English “ARMoured ARTillery”, thus combining both English and French terms. The Germans call their tanks Panzerkanone, i. e. “armoured cannon”.

Pax Napoleonica: “TAC”. An acronym for “Tracked Armoured Car”.

Pour le Coeur: The first tanks in this TL were produced by France and were equipped with flame-throwers. The French infantrymen called these early vehicles Enfumeurs - “smoke-belchers”. The English referenced this by calling enfumeurs “chimneys”.

Southern Victory (TL-191): “Barrel”, from the fact that the USA used the supply of a similar but slightly different unassuming item to conceal the project's funds. Note that the British of this TL still call their own tanks “tanks”, but this use has not caught on internationally (parallelling how most of the different terms for “tank” didn't catch on outside of their OTL users, i. e. the French, Germans, Italians mentioned above). The tank destroyers appearing in later TL 191 novels are referred to as “barrel busters”.

Swarm on the Somme: “Land Dreadnaught”. Often abbrieviated with the acronym “LD” (plural “LDs”), which is in turn occasionally mangled into “eldie(s)”.

The Britwank Empire: “Cataphract”. Named for the heavily armoured cavalry of antiquity.

The Fox and the Lillies: The Italians use carrmato, a colloquialised contraction of the OTL two word Italian term. Since Italians were among the main inovators and long-time distributors of tanks to many nearby parts of Europe, the term has caught on in the Balkans and in central Europe (including some of the more southern German-speaking countries). This has led to many Slavic, German and Hungarian calcques of the original term - the most common one being karmat. Most Germans outside of the Austrian and Swiss territories refer to their tanks as pankam (abbreviation of “Panzerkampfzeug”, acronym PKZ). The anglophone nations usualy call it a tracklayer or treader and the Russians use the term vezdekhod (lit. “everywhere-goer” - inspired by the name of an unfinished OTL Russian tank project).

Through The Endless Grey: “Ark.” A contraction of the words “car kiln,” used by their American (Union) creators to disguise their development and shipment to the front in a similar fashion to Britain's development of the tank IOTL.

Worldwar: “Landcruiser”. Used by the army of the Race. Human WWII vehicles are still “tanks” or “panzers”, depending on their country of origin. However, the Chinese mostly use the Race term as they had little experience of tanks before the invasion.

Teddy bears

OTL: Named after POTUS Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt who famously didn't shoot a young bear cub.

Chaos: “Mishka”. Named by the Russians, refers to a stereotypical name for a male bear (“Michael/Mikey” in English).

Fight and Be Right: The “Randy Bear”. Unfortunately named after Prime Minister Randolph Churchill.

Techno music

OTL: A form of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States during the mid-to-late 1980s. The first recorded use of the word techno in reference to a specific genre of music was in 1988. Many styles of techno now exist, but Detroit techno is seen as the foundation upon which a number of subgenres have been built. The initial take on techno arose from the melding of electronic music, in the style of artists such as Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder and Yellow Magic Orchestra, with African American music styles, including funk, electro, Chicago house and electric jazz. Added to this is the influence of futuristic and fictional themes. Pioneering producer Juan Atkins cites Alvin Toffler's phrase “techno rebels” as inspiring him to use the word “techno” to describe the musical style he helped to create.

The Sparrow Avengers universe: “Drone”. A fairly similar, broad genre of late 20th century electronic music. Originally a disparaging term coined by early critics of the style, mocking the “unberarably artificial, lifeless droning of computers and music synthesizers heard in these so-called songs”. The pioneers of the genre adopted the disparaging label as an affectionate, positively-repurposed moniker. “Drone” musicians and fans are colloquially referred to as “drones”, “droners”, “droneheads” or even “dronedaries”.

Telegraphy and Telegrams

OTL: From the Greek tele “far” and graph “to write”. Strictly speaking, telegraphy is a very general term that takes in any kind of long-range transmission (semaphore towers were formerly called telegraphs for example) but generally people use the word to mean the electrically based, cable-using (not wireless) form that revolutionised communications in the 19th century. Associated with Morse code (or an ATL equivalent) due to being based on an 'off or on' binary system.

Look to the West: “Lectel”, a contraction of “Electric Telegraphy”. Named in contrast to Optel (“Optical Telegraphy”, semaphore) and eventually Photel (“Photonic Telegraphy”, wireless radio).


OTL: Created as a portmanteau of the Greek words τῆλε (tēle), meaning 'far' and φωνή (phōnē), meaning “voice”. The tele- prefix was also adopted for the OTL term for television (see next entry).

Cliveless World: “Televox”. A different way of saying 'far-voice', this ATL term is, in contrast, a Greek-Latin kitbash (vox being the Latin word for 'voice').

Images of 1984: “Handphone” for mobile phone equivalents.

Look to the West: “Quister”, a contraction of “Ventriloquist machine”. This was originally a sarcastic term coined by an “it will never catch on” figure sceptical of the telephone's merits. After the invention's success, the term was used in an ironic sense by its supporters.

Romanitas: “Longdictor”. Most (if not all) modern day telephones in this world are actually videophones, with screens included as standard.

The Fox and the Lillies: There are actually two different terms for this device, equally popular worldwide, both Latin-derived: “Voxport” and “sonoport” (rendered in English as voxporter and sonoporter, colloquially as vox and son(n)y). Certain countries prefer one term, while others prefer the other. A mobile phone is usualy called a “mobvox/movox” or a “mosono”.


OTL: “Television” (in English and many other languages). A kitbash of the Greek word for 'far' and the Latin word for 'sight', which is more literally seen in the German term Fernseher (“farseer”). Earlier names include “radiovision” and “a televisor” for a television set. Unlike English, “televisor” has remained in use in several European languages.

A Brother to Dragons: “Kinetotube”. From the Greek kinesis (“movement”) + tube (derived from an early, mechano-electric form of television in OTL, known as the “kinetoscope”).

For Want Of A Nail: “Vitavision”. Literally 'life-vision' (vita being the Latin term for 'life').

In the Presence of Mine Enemies, The Two Georges and GURPS Alternate Earths I, Gernsback: “Televisors”.

The Limpid Stream: “Cinescreen”.

Look to the West: “Motoscope”.

Romanitas: “Longviewer”.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Viticony”. Roughly translatable as 'life-picturing', 'life-imaging' or 'capturing images of life'. A TV set is a “viticony receiver/viticony device” (colloquial abbrieviations of the term include “vitty” and “crate” - similar to the OTL “telly” and “tube”).


OTL: A timeline is a way of displaying a list of events in chronological order, sometimes described as a project artifact. It is typically a graphic design showing a long bar labelled with dates alongside itself and (usually) events labelled on points where they would have happened. (For the variation of the term, see also Timeline.)

Look to the West: “Linear history”.


OTL: A mechanical device used for writing characters using type (similar to printers' movable type).

Look to the West: “Soloprinter”.


OTL: The part of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths just shorter than violet light and therefore just out of the visible spectrum. The Latin prefix 'ultra-' means 'above', i.e. 'above violet' in the spectrum.

Look to the West: “Supracynthic light”, a contraction of “suprahyacynthic”. 'Supra-' is another Latin prefix meaning 'above', while 'hyacyntho' is Latin for the colour violet.

Uncertainty principle

OTL: (English) Used to describe the fact that one cannot be certain about both the speed and position of a given particle at the same time.

The Britwank Empire: “Indeterminacy theory”. A slightly better translation of the OTL German term.

Look to the West: “Eleatic particle problem”. A reference to the “Achilles and the Tortoise” paradox of Xeno of Elea, which the physicists proposing the idea used as a metaphor for the issues surrounding it. Note that the “problem” terminology comes from these physicists originally using this as a criticism of quantum theory (“inversion theory” in TTL) but it eventually became used even by the theory's supporters–much like “Schroedinger's Cat” in OTL.


OTL: A naturally occurring radioactive element discovered by Martin Heinrich Klaproth in 1789, who extracted it from pitchblende ore and named it for the recently discovered planet of Uranus. Eventually it formed the basis for nuclear power and nuclear weapons once its active uranium-235 isotope could be separated from the majority uranium-238. Previously it had mainly been known as a source of yellow dye. Inactive and only slightly radioactive uranium-238 ('depleted uranium') is sometimes, controversially, used to make weapons and armour because of its very high density.

Look to the West: “Xanthium”, named for its yellow compounds (from the Greek word for yellow) long before its radioactive nature was known.


OTL: People who believe in some form of utopia. The term is derived from a word invented by Thomas More, which hints both at ou topos (“no such place”) and eu topos (“a beautiful place”).

Chaos: “Fictionalists”. Self-explanatory.

Van Allen Radiation Belts

OTL: A radiation belt is a layer of energetic charged particles that is held in place around a magnetized planet, such as the Earth, by the planet's magnetic field. The Earth has two such belts and sometimes others may be temporarily created. The discovery of the belts is credited to James Van Allen and as a result the Earth's belts bear his name. The satellites Explorer 1 and Explorer 3 confirmed the existence of the belts in early 1958.

Kolyma's Shadow : An Alternate Space Race: “Vernov Radiation Belts”. They were discovered by a Soviet sattelite, sooner than an American one, and named in honour of academician Sergei Vernov. The finds were presented at a conference held in New York City in March 1959.

Virtual reality

OTL: A term coined by the French writer Antonin Artaud in 1938 as la realité virtuelle.

Chaos: “Märchenwelt”. German for “fairytale world”.

The Fox and the Lillies: “Simulated universe” or “simulated setting”. Often referred to by the contraction “Simuniv” or the (ironic from OTL point of view) acronym “SUV”.

See Also

Alternate Geographic Names

Useful Resources about Alternate Etymology - A collection of links to sites dealing with etymology. Useful if you're trying to create your own plausible alternate terms.

Official Alternate Terminology Advice Thread - Master advice thread for anyone having problems coming up with alternate terminology for his timeline. Feel free to ask for advice in this thread.

alternate_history/alternate_terminology.txt · Last modified: 2018/07/10 12:44 by petike