More People Are Using the Word Jedi in Everyday Life

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From gaslight to d’oh, many common terms we use today have their roots in pop culture. Now, Merriam-Webster reports that the word Jedi, which originally referred to a member of the fictional knightly order in the Star Wars universe, is increasingly cropping up in contexts that have nothing to do with the franchise.

The dictionary cites a few examples of its usage from the past several years. In May 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported an increase in employers looking to hire a "Jedi," and in February 2016, The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that Liev Schreiber portrayed Boston Globe editor Martin Baron as a "newsroom Jedi" in the 2015 film Spotlight.

When both writers use the term Jedi, they aren’t talking about someone who has mastered the Force and knows their way around a light saber. In this context, a Jedi can refer to a person who is exceptionally skilled at anything.

According to Merriam-Webster, the phrase "Jedi mind trick" has also entered the lexicon, and it's used to talk about something a little different. When removed from its Star Wars origins, it means "coercing someone into a different state of mind," like in this excerpt from a February 2011 issue of Redbook.

"So how do you hold on to your Zen when your husband's in a bad mood? Leave him alone ... To get him to sync with you (and not you with him), just sit back and let your good vibes work a Jedi mind trick on him."

Star Wars isn’t the only major franchise to have an impact on language. The first Harry Potter book debuted decades after the premiere of A New Hope, and the word muggle already has an entry in Oxford Dictionaries. When used outside the context of the films and books, its meaning is the exact opposite of a Jedi: "A person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill.”