The World (PRI), “What Drones, Bees and Marilyn Monroe Have in Common”

August 8, 2013

Interview on PRI’s “The World” about the history of the word “drone.” (Aug. 8. 2013)

In the 1930s, Admiral William Standley visited the United Kingdom when the Royal Navy gave him a presentation of the “Queen Bee”. That was a remotely controlled aircraft– a prototype the Royal Navy had developed for the gunnery to use as target practice.

“Admiral Standley was so impressed that when he came back to the United States, he got his men on it, and in homage to the Queen Bee, he chose the name drone.”

That’s according to Ben Zimmer, a linguist who writes the language column for the Washington Post, and the executive producer of and the Visual Thesaurus.

He recently discussed the origins of the word “drone” and its new use as transitive verbs.

To hear more about drones, and how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Marilyn Monroe and Ronald Reagan are all connected, take a listen.

(Show page, audio, related Wall St. Journal column, Word Routes column)

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