Utopia, a place so wonderful it doesn’t exist, comes from Sir Thomas More’s 1516 book of the same name about a fictional society that gets everything right.
The word itself makes clear that we’re talking about an ideal; it stems from Greek roots meaning “no place.” According to Webster, utopia was first used generally to mean any ideal place later that century.
The word’s ending, topia, has also become a libfix—that is, a string of letters pulled from its original word and used as an evocative prefix or suffix. Dystopia first appeared in the 19th century to mean utopia’s opposite, or “bad place,” more or less.
Affixes.org tells us that topia really has been liberated:
In recent decades, more words in this ending have appeared, such as ecotopia, a community whose environment is organized on ecological and environmentally sensitive principles; subtopia (from suburb), a British term for an unsightly, sprawling suburban development; and technotopia (from technology), a vision of a utopia brought about by science and technology.
I write this post now because I just ran across fauxtopia in David Malki’s excellent Wondermark webcomic. Here’s how his character explains:
I think dissatisfaction with some facet of modern culture can manifest as fake “nostalgia” for an overly-simplified past that only exists as a greener-grass fauxtopia.
Fauxtopia strikes me as more playful than the examples I’ve discussed so far, and even more whimsical topias are now cropping up, including petopia (a pet store), and snowtopia (a flowering plant, a competitive event, or just a lovely scene).
Is your business blog just gathering dust? I’m Leo Williams, a content writer based in Knoxville, Tenn. Drop me a line, and we can get that blog back on track.