It's kind of a long story, but it's worth knowing: Originally a juggernaut (Hindi for "lord of the world") was a giant idol that got dragged through the streets on a cart, and people who worshiped the idol would willingly throw themselves under the wheels of the cart to be killed there. (Except, you know, that probably didn't actually happen.)
Today, a juggernaut is an oversized vehicle. And more loosely, a juggernaut is anything big and powerful that seems to crush people or causes people to stupidly adore it.
JUG er not
Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one juggernaut or multiple juggernauts.)
You can also use "juggernaut" as a verb: to juggernaut something is to crush it.
How to use it:
Some sources still suggest a capital letter: "Juggernaut," but these days we seem to treat it like any other common noun, with a lowercase: "juggernaut."
Call anything a juggernaut when it's huge, forceful, powerful, scary, overpowering, and destructive, especially in a way that makes people act really brainless. Here are some things we tend to label as juggernauts: People, groups, teams, cities, countries, projects, movies, websites, companies, elections, competitions, and wars.
Add your own descriptive terms if you like: a technology juggernaut, an economic juggernaut, a football juggernaut, a pop music juggernaut, etc.
You can reference the word's original meaning by saying that a juggernaut is approaching or rolling onto the scene, or that people are being crushed under the juggernaut of something, blindly throwing themselves at a juggernaut, fleeing from the path of some juggernaut, etc. Here's a witty example of that from Forbes: "But then the regulatory juggernaut hit a pothole."
And finally, although the tone of this word can be very serious and critical, you can also be sarcastic or playful with it: "Well, my diet just got pulverized by the glorious Swiss Cake Rolls juggernaut."
For independent authors, Amazon.com has become a juggernaut, making and breaking careers every time it steamrolls in a different direction.
His political campaign is a bizarre juggernaut that's only gathered momentum from all its bad press.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "juggernaut" means when you can explain it without saying "giant vehicle" or "crushing force."
Think of someone or something that used to be hugely powerful or hugely popular, and fill in the blanks: "Kids today don't realize it, but _____ was/were once an unstoppable (cultural/musical/literary/television/film/corporate/athletic/Internet/tech) juggernaut."
Example: "Kids today don't realize it, but Geocities was once an unstoppable Internet juggernaut."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing New Word Order! It's a card game that I recently created; it involves figuring out the order in which certain words and phrases entered our language. I'll give you several words and/or phrases, and you'll use your knowledge of history, slang, technology, popular culture, fashion, psychology, etc. to put them into chronological order. I'll post the right answer to each question on the following day. If you like this game, you can download and print it to play with your family and friends. (It's free.)
Yesterday's task was to place "rewritable" on this timeline: Declutter, 1950 Paparazzi, 1981 McJob, 1986
Today, your new timeline looks like this:
Shake ‘n Bake, 1965
Trash talk, 1981
Try to decide where this term belongs on that timeline: "malware."
A Point Well Made:
Voltaire: “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do.”
1. The opposite of JUGGERNAUT is
2. _____ have struggled to compete with juggernauts like _____.
A. Aging gymnasts .. this fresh-faced newbie
B. Locally owned small businesses .. Wal-Mart
C. New home builders .. reasonably priced resale properties
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
We sometimes see "juggernaut" in reference to literal transportation, but as usual we're more interested in abstract, general uses. Similarly, could you recall what it means to railroad something, and what it means to keelhaul someone?
Also, remember our word vanguard? It looks like it should be about a vehicle (hey, it's got "van"!) but it isn't. The "van" in "vanguard" is related to "advance," though. Can you recall what it means to be in the vanguard?
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