Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove Glossary


to block


a quantity of bullets or other items fired from a weapon (also missiles)


the internal diameter of a gun barrel (for example, .22 caliber rifle has a diameter of .22 inches)


to enter or gain access to


to teach one (or a group) to accept a set of beliefs without criticism or question


to undermine the power or authority of


The state of being sober (not intoxicated)


a limitation or restriction


to wholly commit oneself to something


unclear, not specific or detailed


uninhabited, bleak and empty (of a place).


to give into something


In this case, a radio transmission. A program or signal that is sent out.


a characteristic which enables something to be distinguished.


to seize or take custody of


a right or privilege, exclusive to one individual or group


to gradually weaken


a level or rank in an organization.


each of several possible ways in which a set of things can be ordered or arranged


the fluoridation of water is the controlled addition of fluoride to public drinking water to help prevent tooth decay. It has no known negative health consequences.

Cobalt Thorium G

A fictional substance that will produce immense radioactive fallout if exploded in a thermonuclear reaction. It is based on the isotope cobalt-60, which is theoretically produced if normal cobalt is exploded in a thermonuclear reaction.


the action of discouraging an action through fear of its consequences


remarkably great in extent, size, or degree.

Chekhov's Gun

A dramatic concept first described by Anton Chekhov, in which a gun shown to the audience in the first act of play (or movie), must be used by the end of the drama. This concept helps to understand instances of foreshadowing—if the gun is shown, we know it will play an important role in the conflict. "Gun," however, can be a stand in for other items; in Dr. Strangelove, something like the auto-destruct circuit on the radio, which we are shown by the director, is such an item, and we know it will "go off" later in the film.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)

The MAD doctrine was the policy of both the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War. It stated that if one of the superpowers attacked the other with a nuclear weapon, the other would retaliate with its full nuclear force, prompting a retaliation with the full nuclear force of the initiating nation, resulting in the total destruction of both nations. It was intended to deter both nations from using their nuclear weapons but had obvious logical flaws, and is a major focus of the film.