It is interesting to note the widespread use of a new derivative suffix, -rama, in New York advertising language. The appeal of -rama is evidently due to the great success of the wide-screen motion picture, Cinerama, which had its New York première on September 30, 1952…Cinerama was made up in the mid-194os, when Fred Waller, the inventor of this motion picture technique, offered a case of champagne to a co-worker for the best name for the process. The prize was won by Waldo McLowerie, who came up with Cinerama. It was obviously coined on the analogy of panorama and the less frequent cyclorama, from the root cine-, occurring in a great many words related to motion pictures, and the ending -rama, taken from the final part of panorama and cyclorama, disregarding any analytic-etymological considerations. (Panorama, dating from 1796, goes back ultimately to the Greek pan 'every' and horama 'view,' and thus the -o- is an etymologically given phoneme in the compound…)

The transfer was motivated by the similarity in the arrangement of the Cinerama technique…offering a wide panoramic view which creates the illusion of depth, an illusion which is further augmented by stereophonic sound effects...

Immediately after the enthusiastic reception of Cinerama by critics and public, the liquor store next door to the theater called its window display a 'liquorama'; other names followed: audiorama, a display of acoustic instruments; Autorama, a television show; colorama, a color movie; Dekorama, an oil paint decal set; Figurama, an 'amazing new three-dimensional girdle'; Himberama, 'a 4-D show,' advertised on Times Square; motorama, an auto- mobile exhibit; newsorama, a television news program; Phonorama, a new Philco phonograph; scoutorama, a meeting of New York State Boy Scouts; sinerama, in an advertisement of the jacket of a book called Jest and Sex: 'Sexplosively Sexational Sinerama of life'; skinerama, the headline of a World-Telegram article making fun of baldness concoctions; smellorama, the 'symphony' of a 'smell organ,' in an article on experiments in sensory entertainment during the 1920s; striporama, a burlesque movie; telerama, a television show; vistarama, a new anamorphic type of wide-screen photography and projection; and Wonderama, 'the first musical of the future.'

The word Cinerama was by no means the first coinage with this ending in the twentieth century. Well known is the Futurama of the General Motors exhibit during the New York World's Fair of 1939-40, but this did not seem to create a fashion…

The meaning of this suffix is clear: 'a spectacular show or display' (the thing displayed is sometimes indicated in the stem).

John Lotz, "The suffix -rama", American Speech, Vol. 29, No. 2 (May, 1954)



The boarders dropped in one after another, interchanging greetings and the empty jokes that certain classes of Parisians regard as humorous and witty. Dullness is their prevailing ingredient, and the whole point consists in mispronouncing a word or in a gesture. This kind of argot is always changing. The essence of the jest consists in some catchword suggested by a political event, an incident in the police courts, a street song, or a bit of burlesque at some theater, and forgotten in a month. Anything and everything serves to keep up a game of battledore and shuttlecock with words and ideas. The diorama, a recent invention, which carried an optical illusion a degree further than panoramas, had given rise to a mania among art students for ending every word with rama. The Maison Vauquer had caught the infection from a young artist among the boarders.

“Well, Monsieur-r-r Poiret,” said the employé from the Muséum, “how is your health-orama?” Then, without waiting for an answer, he turned to Mme. Couture and Victorine with a “Ladies, you seem melancholy.”
“Is dinner ready?” cried Horace Bianchon, a medical student, and a friend of Rastignac’s; “my stomach is sinking usque ad talones.”
“There is an uncommon frozerama outside!” said Vautrin. “Make room there, Father Goriot! Confound it! your foot covers the whole front of the stove.”
“Illustrious M. Vautrin,” put in Bianchon, “why do you say frozerama? is right by the same rule that you say ‘My feet are froze.’”
“Ah! ah!”
“Here is his Excellency the Marquis de Rastignac, Doctor of the Law of Contraries,” cried Bianchon, seizing Eugène by the throat, and almost throttling him.
“Hallo there! hallo!”
Mlle. Michonneau came noiselessly in, bowed to the rest of the party, and took her place beside the three women without saying a word.
“That old bat always makes me shudder,” said Bianchon in a low voice, indicating Mlle. Michonneau to Vautrin. “I have studied Gall’s system, and I am sure she has the bump of Judas.”
“Then you have seen a case before?” said Vautrin.
“Who has not?” answered Bianchon. “Upon my word, that ghastly old maid looks just like one of the long worms that will gnaw a beam through, give them time enough.”
“That is the way, young man,” returned he of the forty years and the dyed whiskers—
“The rose has lived the life of a rose—
A morning’s space.”

“Aha! here is a magnificent soupe-au-rama,” cried Poiret as Christophe came in bearing the soup with cautious heed.
“I beg your pardon, sir,” said Mme. Vauquer; “it is soupe aux choux.”
All the young men roared with laughter.

honoré de balzac, old goriot (1835)



with your moonshine eyes
and your envious mouth
that doesn't give, that doesn't give,
that doesn't give at all.
you, with your lover
and friend the wind
that ruffles your hair
and reveals all your dreams.
twisted, rebellious, crazy,
in love with yesterday
and tomorrow and with the desire
of what i want to be,
and tomorrow,
if there is a tomorrow,
i will be...