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Last updated at 12:42 BST, Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Bridezilla

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John Ayto explains the origin, meaning and use of the expression 'bridezilla'. Click below to listen:

Wedding cake

All you bridezillas, dadzillas and mumzillas out there - just calm down!

Bridezilla

Weddings can be stressful occasions. You know how it is: the closer the big day approaches, the more wound-up everyone involved gets - the bride-to-be throws tantrums if every small detail of the preparations isn't perfect; the bride's father wants to take over the whole affair and run it himself, without consulting the happy couple; the bridegroom's mother, losing her son to a woman who doesn't come up to her own high standards, interferes at every turn.

The ever-resourceful English language now has words for all three of them: the pushy father is a 'dadzilla', the possessive mother a 'mumzilla', and any obnoxious bride-to-be is a 'bridezilla'.

This last was the coinage that started the trend, in the USA in the mid 1990s, and it can cover the whole range of bridely imperfections, from spitefulness to bridesmaids to wedding-present greed. It can be applied to bridegrooms too: the American singer Katy Perry recently called her fiancé, the British comedian Russell Brand, a bridezilla, because he was getting overexcited about their forthcoming wedding.

The word was based, of course, on 'Godzilla', the name of a fearsome dinosaur-like monster originally created for a Japanese film in 1954 (the Japanese form of its name, 'Gojira', means literally 'gorilla whale'). Not a very nice thing to be compared to, so all you bridezillas, dadzillas and mumzillas out there - just calm down!

About John Ayto

John Ayto

John Ayto is a lexicographer and a writer on words and language. He began his dictionary career as one of the editors of the first edition of the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, and over the past twenty years he has produced a range of his own books on the history and use of words, including the Bloomsbury Dictionary of Word Origins, the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang and Twentieth-Century Words, a survey of the new words that came into the English language during the twentieth century. He edited the 17th edition of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, and he has broadcast extensively on lexical matters.