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Word for the Wise June 13, 2007 Broadcast Topic: Roller coaster

Picture this: June, 1884. The end of the trolley line, the beach at Coney Island. Squeals of excitement as the first ever customers of what inventor LaMarcus Adna Thompson dubbed his Switchback Railway or "gravity pleasure ride" climb aboard. At a nickel a ride, the diversion was a hit, pulling in hundreds of dollars a day as visitors trudged uphill in order to seat themselves in the train car that zoomed down 600 feet of track at six miles per hour. (来源:英语麦当劳-英语学习门户 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

Although the term roller coaster did not appear in print for another four years, the American roller coaster turns 123 years old today. More than a century later, the roller coaster enjoys a metaphoric meaning: in addition to naming an "elevated railway constructed with sharp curves and steep inclines on which cars roll," roller coaster also names "behavior, events, or experiences characterized by sudden and extreme changes;" or something resembling a roller coaster.

Similarly, the birthplace of the American roller coaster, Coney Island, also developed a meaning other than the one applied to the area in South Brooklyn. The name of that thriving resort area is now used for any place felt to resemble the original Coney Island, especially in a blatantly entertaining quality or garish attraction.

 
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