The meaning of “Inception”

I watched “Inception” with a friend and we are a bit intrigued by the film’s title.

Both of us had previously only known the word as meaning “beginning” or “commencement”. But what Cobb and his team does is to put an idea in somebody’s mind. So how come a word meaning “commencement” is used to describe the act of “insertion” or “implantation”?

What Eames (Tom Hardy) says in the film might shed some light. When explaining how to make inception less difficult, he says the trick is to reduce the idea you want to plant to its simplest, most visceral kernel. That way, the idea can take root and grow naturally, so that by the time it flowers into action, its foreign origin will be impossible to discern. In other words, what Cobb and his team plant in Fischer is not an idea in its matured form, but rather one in infancy, or, its beginning. The whole point is to make a start.

There is, however, another sense of inception. The verb “incept” can mean to “take in; ingest”, according to http://www.thefreedictionary.com. Indeed, the subject of inception in the film is taking in a foreign idea. I didn’t know this other sense until the film encouraged me to look the word up.

A post on the film’s title on Johnson, the language blog of The Economist, says “I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up entering the language as a new meaning of inception: ‘the planting of an idea; the introduction (perhaps surreptitious) of an idea from an outside source'”. This is already happening. My friend told me Urban Dictionary lists this use of the word:

1. (in-ˈsep-shən)–n. the act of convincing a female (usually out of one’s league) to have sex with you by making the female think it is her own idea.

“But we already have a word for it. It’s ‘seduction’.” I said.

“No, I think it’s more about an ugly man convincing a gorgeous woman…”

“Isn’t that just ‘deception’?”

One thought on “The meaning of “Inception”

  1. “But we already have a word for it. It’s ‘seduction’.” I said.
    “No, I think it’s more about an ugly man convincing a gorgeous woman…”
    “Isn’t that just ‘deception’?”

    — I loled reading this.

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