## Math Words for National Dictionary Day

Want to start today the right way? Say, “Good morning!” to Alexa today, and she’ll respond:

Good morning! It’s National Dictionary Day. Ever wonder what the shortest word is? Technically, it’s a toss-up between the single letter words I and a, but since I is always capitalized, I’d say a is just a little shorter.

Is there anything more powerful than a language arts joke to get the day off to a good start?

I have no words to describe today. I do, however, have a ton of obscene gestures.

So, what’s the shortest math word? Technically, e and i, but if you don’t like constants, then you’ll have to settle for the three-letter words set and box.

And what’s the longest math word — at least based on the list at Math Words? It has 17 letters, and you’ll get a big hint if you check the time.

What two math words, both having the same number of letters, are equally appropriate to describe a triangle whose sides are congruent?

And what’s the funniest math word? Personally, I think it’s syzygy, but according to Tomas Engelthaler, it’s logic. In Humor Norms for 4,997 English Words, Engelthaler and Hills (2017) describe a method for determining which words are funniest. I emailed Engelthaler to ask which math word is funniest, and he responded as if it were a completely reasonable question. Without hesitation, he shared a list of math words and their humor rankings, and these five were at the top of the list:

• logic
• math
• theory
• science
• graph

The overall funniest English word, according to Engelthaler’s research? Booty. Go figure.

While you may not think that any of those words, mathy or otherwise, are laugh-out-loud funny, this isn’t debatable; it’s based on science.

If you take issue with this research, you’ll need to discuss it with Engelthaler and his colleagues. Please write to him directly to say that you’re bumfuzzled, that his research is malarkey, or that you think he’s a nincompoop.

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• 1. Randy Scott  |  October 17, 2018 at 11:40 am

longest: reparameterization

funniest: apothem…when said with a drunk accent!

• 2. venneblock  |  October 17, 2018 at 2:56 pm

I love it, Randy!

I believe that reparameterization absolutely bests my contention that the longest math word has 17 letters, though it is not on the list at http://www.mathwords.com.

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

## MJ4MF (offline version)

Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.