Humor Science word-of-the-day

More Words of the Day: Phar Lap and Pharlapiscus

Jason pointed out the potential for embarassment that could be caused when you confuse words that have two or more meanings. Sometimes two words will be different but very similar and one might accidently use the one when they mean the other. This also causes great shame. A common example, which every schoolchild knows, concerns the words Phar Lap and Pharlapsicus. Phar Lap is, obviously, Australia's wonder horse, who won the Agua Caliente Handicap in 1932. Then he died a fortnight later. You don't have to be the a wizard of "Oz" to know that (but it helps)! Pharlapiscus (note: this name is so popular, it appears as an external link to a HotBot web search for the term Chalicodoma pluto!) is also a creature, but it is no regular horse! It is an irregular horse, also known as a short-snouted Australian sea horse. Do not underestimate the potential for awkwardness if you mistakenly confuse the two terms. For instance, upon hearing these two terms the inimitable Albert J. Klee chuckled. I wrote this post because I once made this mistake and it cost me my family. Here is an easy mnemonic that will help you remember the difference: "A horse (with legs) runs a far lap around the racetrack and is blessed, but a sea horse who runs a far lap is cursed. Make sure you really slur the word "cursed" or the mnemonic doesn't work. The world is an amazing place full of wonder, don't fuck it up by sloppily confusing words. Note: the words are so similar because one was named after the other, although which came first is an etymological mystery for all time.