Posts tagged ‘dictionary’

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.

floccinaucinihilipilification

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.

October 16, 2018 at 6:20 am 2 comments

AWOKK, Day 6: KenKen Glossary

KENgratulations! You’ve made it to Day 6 of MJ4MF’s A Week of KenKen series. If you happened to miss any of the fun we’ve had previously…

Robert F. Fuhrer is a toy inventor with a knack for coming up with creative names, including Crocodile Dentist, Gator Golf, T.H.I.N.G.S. (Totally Hilarious, Incredibly Neat Games of Skill), Rumble Bugs, Missile Toe (literally, a rocket in the shape of a toe), and many others. As the president of Nextoy, LLC, which holds the registered trademark for KenKen®, Bob now uses his creative naming abilities for the appellations of KenKen-related products.

The word that started this post, KENgratulations, is just one of his many linguistic creations. I rather like the term he coined to describe the computer application that randomly generates KenKen puzzles.

KEN·er·tor n. the “machine” (computer application) used to automatically generate KenKen puzzles

Quick! We need more 6 × 6 puzzles. Crank up the Kenerator!

The name conjures images of a machine from Willy Wonka.

Oompa, loompa, doom-pa-dee-do,
I’ve got a perfect puzzle for you…

Numbers and operations go in, puzzles come out.

The Kenerator

Bob can also take credit for the following:

KEN·cil n. a pencil used to solve KenKen puzzles

I prefer kencils rather than pens when solving KenKen puzzles.

KEN·grat·la·tions n. an expression of praise for solving a KenKen puzzle

Kengratulations for solving that puzzle in less than 7 years!

KEN·thu·si·ast n. someone who likes to solve KenKen puzzles

Most Kenthusiasts solve more than one KenKen puzzle a day.

There’s no doubt, Bob is good. But as you saw in a previous post, I’ve got a knack for coining terms, too…

KEN·tath·lon n. competition involving multiple KenKen events

I complete a Kentathlon consisting of a 4 × 4, 5 × 5, and 6 × 6 puzzle every morning.

e·go·KEN·tric adj. a person who thinks that they are better than others at solving KenKen puzzles

He’s completely egokentric, even though he’s never won a KenKen tournament.

KEN·tral of·fice n. where KenKen puzzles are made

The Kenerator resides in the kentral office.

KEN·te·nar·i·an n. person who has solved 100+ KenKen puzzles

He became instantly addicted to KenKen puzzles; he became a kentenarian in less than 3 weeks.

su·per·KEN·te·nar·i·an n. person who has solved 100+ KenKen puzzles in one day

She became a superkentenarian by completing all the puzzles in Ferocious KenKen on Saturday.

KEN·ta·gon n. the arena in which KenKen tournaments take place (analogous to the Octagon, the eight-sided chain-link enclosure used for Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, though usually less violent)

Enter the kentagon, prepare to solve!

KEN·o·pause n. the period in a puzzle solver’s life when KenKen ceases to be fun

Kenthusiasts who have entered kenopause usually solve fewer than one puzzle a day, on average.

KEN·i·ten·tia·ry n. where KenKen solvers are locked up if they’re caught cheating (syn prism)

If you copy off your neighbor at a KenKen tournament, you’ll be sent to the kenitentiary.

KEN·al·ty n. a disadvantage imposed on a puzzle solver at a tournament for an infringement of the rules

He was given a 15-second kenalty for “using a kencil in an unsafe manner.”

KEN·ais·sance n. the period from roughly 2008 to 2010 when KenKen puzzles experienced tremendous growth in popularity, likely the result of publication in The Times (London), the NY Times, and other newspapers

Harold Reiter’s interest in KenKen started long before the Kenaissance.

KEN·der·foot, n. an amateur; someone who has solved only a few KenKen puzzles

He’s such a kenderfoot; he doesn’t even know the X-wing strategy!

KEN·den·cies n. the habits of a KenKen solver; analogous to a “tell” in poker

He has a kendency to complete all of the addition cages before attempting any subtraction cage.

hy·per·KEN·ti·late n. to breathe heavily while solving a puzzle (usu., a result of having difficulty)

At the 2013 KenKen International Championship, she started to hyperkentilate when she had trouble with a difficult 6 × 6 puzzle.

September 24, 2016 at 5:05 am Leave a comment

5 New (Mathy) Words from the OED

The OED is the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s largest dictionary of the English language (though not, however, the world’s largest dictionary — that distinction belongs to the Dutch dictionary Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal.) The OED attempts to “present in alphabetical series the words that have formed the English vocabulary from the time of the earliest records down to the present day.”

Forgive me if you already knew that. I just never assume that mathy folks know (or care) about the OED, just as I don’t assume that literary people are familiar with the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra.

The OED is revised four times a year. Over 2,400 entries were added during the most recent revision (December 1), and the following are new words that entered the dictionary during the past year:

  • coordinate geometry – system in which points, lines, shapes, and surfaces are represented by algebraic expressions. This term was added as a “subordinate entry,” meaning that it appears under the main entry “coordinate.” Still, it’s surprising that it took four millennia to get the word into the OED (Descartes introduced the coordinate plane in Discourse on the Method of Reasoning Well and Seeking Truth in the Sciences in 1637).
  • cyberslacking – using internet access at work for personal reasons while maintaining the appearance of working. For example, updating a math joke blog instead of revising the budget per your director’s request.
  • ego-surfing – searching the web for instances of your own name. Or checking Amazon daily to determine the sales ranking of your book.
  • Richard Snary – as Dick is a shortened form of Richard, this is a pun for “dictionary.” (Go ahead, say, “Dick Snary” out loud and listen to what it sounds like.) This is a 17th‑century slang term that has somehow hung around for several hundred years, not unlike the math pun, “Pie aren’t square, pie are round!”
  • Rolle’s theorem – a theorem which says that a differentiable function with equal values at two points must have a point somewhere in between where the first derivative is zero. It’s good to see that calculus is getting some props.
  • rope’s length – in knot theory, the minimal length of an ideally flexible rope needed to tie a given knot. What’s unclear is whether this is the intention for the entry in the OED. Knot theorists use ropelength, not rope’s length, to describe this concept, but a Google search fails to reveal any common use of “rope’s length.”
  • techy – an informal way of designating technological sophistication. This is heartening — with techy now officially recognized, “mathy” can’t be far behind.

The following are entries that should be added but probably never will be:

  • decagon – what a croupier says after being fired.
  • dilemma – a lemma with two results.
  • paradox – two wharves.
  • protractor – in favor of farm machinery.
  • tangent – a sun-burned gentleman.
  • Calvin Culus, Albert Jabra, and Paulina Hedron – hey, if Richard Snary gets in for “dictionary,” then it’s only reasonable that we math folks get some stupid puns, too.

December 20, 2010 at 4:27 pm Leave a comment


About MJ4MF

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.

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