: the principal policy-making and executive committee of a Communist party
Origin: Russian politbyuro, from politicheskoe byuro political bureau.
First use: 1925
I got the above definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app I have installed on my iPad and the word came across my radar a couple of weeks back. It was a lazy Sunday and one of the premium movie channels (I think it was HBO) was having, starting at around 7 or 8 in the morning, a Rocky marathon. With the exception of "Rocky Balboa," the second conclusion of the series that came out in 2006, all the Rocky movies were shown in their entirety and in order from Rocky all the way to Rocky V. And one of the cool things about the marathon was that, being in New Jersey, if I missed the showing on my time, I could watch it again on the west coast channel. I grew up with the Rocky movies and, in many ways, they depict the evolution of my generation. On an even more personal note, some of the movies relate to major events in my life so they possess extra special significance.
In Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone's hero goes to the USSR to train in a secluded mountainous countryside that looks like it's been hit with one blizzard after another. He's there because Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, killed Apollo Creed, one of Rocky's best friends and his opponent in Rocky and Rocky II. Creed, coming out of retirement, dies in an exhibition bout against Drago. Before the ding of the round one bell, Creed comes out to James Brown singing "Living In America" and he's dressed up in a George Washington wig, Stars and Stripes trunks with back up dancers who are similarly jingoistically clad.
In various training montage scenes, there are shots of Drago being injected with something -steroids - and the entire movie is about the good west (represented by Rocky and the USA) battling the evil east (represented, of course, by the USSR). Juxtaposed with Drago's performance enhancing drug workouts are Rocky's all natural exercises. Instead of an Olympic bar stacked with forty-five pound plates, as Drago uses, Rocky lifts an old horse cart (minus the horse) with his trainer, wife and brother-in-law sitting in it. So, not only is the movie about the 'big bad Soviet Union,' it's a commentary on the stories of eastern bloc athletes doping in the international sports scene. In the final bout, as Rocky goes on to win, Drago refers to his opponent as a machine and Rocky shows the kind of indomitable spirit needed to win against all odds. After Rocky wins, he goes on to make a speech - an olive branch, of sorts, by the filmmakers - that says it's better that only he and Drago are bashing each other in and how that's better than two nations going at it. He also says how, through the bout, many of the 99.9% Soviet audience started cheering for him and if they can change and he can change so, too, can the whole world.
USa vs USSR of course, was the big deal in the 1980s. From the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics - and the subsequent boycotts of each nation from The Games it didn't host - to Star Wars nuclear technology, the USSR's entry into Afghanistan (commented on, in part, in Rambo III), the entire decade and some of the early 1990s - even after the end of the Cold War in 1991 - was all about the threat of what was behind the Iron Curtain.
Since the fall of the USSR and the emergence of the Union's independent nations, there is no longer a (secret) threat of nuclear war (at least not from Easter Europe). Along with the USSR's demise and the end of Communism in the region has been the death of certain words that were pertinent to the social and political structure of the day. 'Politburo' is one of them. A word that was common in front page, back page and middle page newspaper clippings is no longer seen. There isn't a need for it.The word 'glasnost' has also gone the way of ostensible extinction. Just like with politburo, there isn't a need for glasnost - as a word or an idea - since there is no longer a Soviet Union and because it's not a crime nor is it something to be feared if you talk openly about social concerns.
So, what other 'dead words' are there that existed in our cultural lexicon that we longer use? And, I don't mean the names of fad diets or products. I mean, when was the last time a waiter or waitress asked if a patron wanted a Tab? (I've seen Tab in a couple of stores, though, recently. And, what was the deal with Diet Tab? Yes, there was a Diet Tab. If Tab was already a diet cola, what was Diet Tab, an empty can?) I don't mean words like 'cowabunga' or how the 1980s brought 'awesome' to prominence the way 'cool' became vogue in the 1960s and 70s. What I mean are words that we used everyday because we had to but, due to some kind of world change, we longer need to; not slang or colloquial phrases between and within groups.
So,if you can think of any others and how/why they stopped being used, please do share. I can't wait to read your responses and the creativity in them.