Interesting and Unusual Words: “Mutant”

By Matt Vicker


I do enjoy a good X-Men film – just thought I’d put that out there. Later this year, the next X-Men film, Days of Future Past, will come out. For those who don’t know (or care), the X-Men films surround mutants and their superhero-like abilities. Hence my interest in the word, ‘mutant’.

To me, a ‘mutant’ is something or someone that has changed (mutated, if you will). It is quite a modern word – having been in the English language since 1901, but some would argue that is not modern at all. I was surprised to discover that it was that long ago. Being how narrow-minded I am about science fiction, I over-looked that the basic principle of being a mutant was that there had been some form of mutation. The OED says the word is biological and gives the definition of ‘An organism, gene, etc., which has undergone or arisen by mutation; a mutated form.’  which is of course the first and proper definition of ‘mutant’. Clearly I watch too many Marvel films – it is influencing my understanding of words! Just be thankful I looked at the origins of ‘mutant’ rather than ‘Wolverine’… (X-Men Origins: Wolverine joke there, don’t worry if you didn’t get it – just don’t judge me!)

The OED entry for ‘mutant’:

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