Over on Language Log, Geoff Pullum has just posted about a flap over a use of the expression health Nazi, saying that
Calling someone a health Nazi strikes me as a semi-jocular (if rather abusive) way of accusing him of foisting his health ideas on others in an authoritarian way.
and noting that calling someone a health Nazi is not calling them a member of the National Socialist party. The pattern in X Nazi (or nazi) is one of
a number of N1 + N2 composite patterns, most of them non-subsective (the denotation of the composite is not within the denotation of N2), but all of them exhibiting some semantic oddities, and all of them formulaic to some degree, hence snowclone-like. In other words, “snowclonelet composites”.
(from my posting here).
My collection of snowclonelets has been mounting; X drag and X magnet are the ones I’ve posted about most recently (here and here). X Nazi came up on Language Log back in 2004, in a brief posting by Mark Liberman, citing linguistics nazi and grammar nazi, and also some examples (Open Source Nazi and Soup Nazi, plus the portmanteau Feminazi) from a Wikipedia entry that observed that some people are offended by such uses of nazi in popular culture.
The OED covers the usage. The draft revision of December 2009 has a subentry for the noun Nazi:
hyperbolically. A person who is perceived to be authoritarian, autocratic, or inflexible; one who seeks to impose his or her views upon others. Usu. derogatory.
This is an improvement on Mark’s rough gloss “someone who is serious about X in an unfriendly way”.
The OED entry has a 1982 cite for the Safety Nazis and a 1995 cite for Aerobics Nazis, indicating that the very well-known use of soup Nazi on the television sitcom Seinfeld might have been a vector for the spread of the pattern X Nazi, but it wasn’t the source of the pattern. (The episode “The Soup Nazi”, the 116th on the show, first aired on 11/2/95.)
On to grammar nazi, which is all over the place. Here’s a 2008 Ozy and Millie cartoon with it:
and a 2009 blog entry that begins:
I am a grammar nazi. Really. Everyone has a pet-peeve, right? Something that just irritates them beyond belief? Well, for me, that happens to be poor grammar and an incorrect usage of homophones.
Meanwhile, grammar nazi has come up several times on Language Log, for reference to “a person who insists on correcting (or incorrecting) other people’s usage” (as Mark Liberman put it here).