"Fodder" is coarse food that you feed to animals, and sometimes we use "fodder" to mean "raw material for anything."
So, specifically, cannon fodder are soldiers who are just there to be quickly killed in battle. It's like they are common, otherwise useless material to be used up or thrown away, or "cannon food."
More generally, cannon fodder is stuff (or a person) that's easily used, easily taken advantage of, or easily gotten rid of.
CAN un FOD er
Part of speech:
(Like “milk,” “rice,” and “education,” uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units. You talk about “some milk,” “the rice,” and “a lot of education,” but you don’t say “a milk,” “three rices,” or “many educations.”
Likewise, talk about “the cannon fodder,” “such cannon fodder,” “a lot of cannon fodder,” “no cannon fodder,” and so on, but don’t say “cannon fodders.”)
How to use it:
You can call someone cannon fodder, say that someone becomes cannon fodder, say that people are cannon fodder for whoever is controlling them, talk about how people get used as cannon fodder or get sacrificed as cannon fodder, or simply say that someone gets treated as cannon fodder.
Who or what is it that's cannon fodder? Anyone or anything that can be shot down, so to speak, or gotten rid of, or exploited, often in large groups. So that's usually people, like members of a sports team, contestants on a show, applicants for a job, etc. Cannon fodder can also be characters in fiction, pieces or players in a game, or things that people have created, like books, songs, products, proposals, petitions and so on.
This is a horrifying phrase if you use it literally: "the civilians were sacrificed as cannon fodder in the war." But you can use it lightheartedly: "I've got ten options here, but only one is really good and the rest are cannon fodder for the garbage can. Pew pew pew!"
Not caring how large and devoted the show's fan base was, the network treated it as cannon fodder, canceling it with no notice.
I love Scrabble, but I play it for fun, not seriously. In a tournament, I'd be cannon fodder.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "cannon fodder" means when you can explain it without saying "expendable stuff" or "exploitable people."
Think of a game, contest, or sport that you like, and fill in the blanks: "In _____, anyone who can't _____ is just cannon fodder."
Example: "In the board game Cloud Nine, anyone who can't take risks is just cannon fodder."
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 with song lyrics that include words featured in issues of Make Your Point. I’ll give you a few lines from the song, with a blank where our word appears, along with its definition. See if you can come up with it! You can follow the link to see the right answer right away, or just wait until the following day’s issue. Have fun!
Yesterday's lyrics: Artist: Green Day Title: Prosthetic Head Lyrics: Plastic eyes, lookin' through a numb skull.
Self-_____, what's his face.
You erased yourself so shut up. Definition: wiped out completely, as if by an eraser
Try this one today:
Artist: Elvis Costello Title: National Ransom Lyrics: The elite bleat, they’re obsolete
But are your prospects?
Exact, perfect object
Now, if you'd only _____
Definition: to kneel down in worship, literally or figuratively
Percy Bysshe Shelley: "Belief is involuntary; nothing involuntary is meritorious or reprehensible. A man ought not to be considered worse or better for his belief."
1. The opposite of CANNON FODDER is
A. TOP HAND
B. TOP BRASS
C. TOP DOLLAR
2. Would you say that we treat celebrities as cannon fodder, or _____
A. do we instead hold them to lower standards than we do ourselves?
B. do they bring on all that scrutiny themselves with ridiculous behavior?
C. should we reassess how much value they actually create in relation to their salaries?
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.
Though it has broad applicability, today's "cannon fodder" is especially well-known to gamers: video gamers, board gamers, and of course, live action role players. Some other words we've looked at with a decidedly "gamer" flavor to them include elemental, genius loci, and labyrinthine. Gamer or not, could you recall the meaning of each?
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