The Oxford English Dictionary is widely regarded as the premier dictionary of the English language and is rated the most comprehensive dictionary on the planet by Guinness World Records. It includes specific definitions for countless obscure and unusual monsters, including the infamous chupacabra of Latin America and Bigfoot’s Himalayan cousin, the albino yeti. But it does not include an accurate definition of the modern zombie.
It instead focuses solely on the slave like zombie of Afro-Haitian tradition that is unrelated to the modern zombie of contemporary pop culture.
Does this mean that nearly every movie, video game, event, and organization that celebrates zombies simply doesn’t exist? Are the tens of millions of people who participate in zombie walks, zombie proms, zombie pub crawls, and zombie festivals across the planet gathered to express their interest in a non-thing? Or, instead, is the modern zombie being overlooked?
It seems that billions of dollars in annual revenue across multiple platforms still can’t put the modern zombie officially on the map.
Based on an extensive study of the modern zombie’s evolution over the past half century and on countless interviews with zombie fans and scholars across the globe, here is its definition:
The modern zombie is a relentlessly aggressive, reanimated human corpse driven by a biological infection.
By breaking down the definition into its component parts, three key elements emerge against which all manner of creature can be quickly and easily judged. These three definitional elements of the modern zombie are:
- It is a reanimated human corpse
- It is relentlessly aggressive
- It is biologically infected and infectious
This definition is intended to be narrow enough to clearly identify the modern zombie’s unique characteristics and broad enough to apply equally to 1968’s original Night of the Living Dead as to the zombie films being conceived and produced today.
So what do you think of this definition? What did we get right, and what needs to be tweaked?