A factoid is a spurious — unverified, incorrect, or fabricated — statement formed and asserted as a fact, but with no . The word appears in the Oxford English Dictionary as "something which becomes accepted as fact, although it may not be true" [cite book | editor = Simpson JA & Weiner ESC | title=The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition| publisher=Clarendon Press| year=1991 | id=ISBN 0-19-861258-3]

"Factoid" was coined by Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe. Mailer described a factoid as "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper" [cite book | last = Mailer | first = Norman | title=Marilyn: A Biography | publisher=Grosset & Dunlap| year=1973 | id=ISBN 0-448-01029-1] , and created the word by combining the word "fact" and the ending "-oid" to mean "like a fact". The Washington Times described Mailer's new word as referring to "something that looks like a fact, could be a fact, but in fact is not a fact". [ [http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/jan/23/20070123-121624-9376r/ Wesley Pruden, Editorial in "Washington Times"] ]

Factoids may give rise to, or arise from, common misconceptions and urban legends.


*Many residents of the Australian city of Mount Isa believe that their city, in terms of its area, is the world's largest or second largest. In reality Mount Isa is the second largest city in Australia, and there are several cities around the world with larger incorporated areas. Their own local council web site incorrectly suggests it is the second largest city on earth. [ [http://www.mountisa.qld.gov.au/welcome/The_City_Today/the_city_today.html Mount Isa City Council page suggesting their city is the second largest city in the world] ]
*The media in Canada have often reported that the city of Toronto was named by UNESCO as the most multicultural city in the world. Although there have been some reports suggesting that Toronto may be "one of" the world's most diverse cities (see Demographics of Toronto), the United Nations agency has never designated any city as being "the most" multicultural or diverse. [cite web| url = http://ceris.metropolis.net/PolicyMatter/2004/PolicyMatters11.pdf| title = The Anatomy of an Urban
| author = Michael J. Doucet| publisher = CERIS - Metropolis Toronto Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement| month = October | year = 2004| accessdate = 2007-05-23|format=PDF
] Nonetheless, the belief in this status persisted for years, even finding its way onto UNESCO's own web site, [ [http://www.unesco.org/most/usa9.htm UNESCO Best Practices for Human Settlements: Metro Toronto's Changing Communities] ] into the pages of the "New York Times" [Clyde H. Farnsworth, "Toronto Journal: To Battle Bigots, Help from South of the Border," New York Times, Friday, 12 February 1993, 4.] and "The Economist", ["City of diversity", Economist City Guide: Toronto, [http://www.economist.com/cities/findStory.cfm?city_id=TO&folder=Facts-History] (retrieved May 24, 2007)] and into international media reports in respect of Toronto's two Olympic bids.
*The Great Wall of China is often thought as being the only man-made object visible from the moon. [See Great Wall of China's visibility] In reality no man-made object can be seen with a naked eye from the moon unless you count such things as the changing of Holland's coast or the partial drying out of the Aral Sea.
*It is often thought that chameleons change colour to match their surroundings as camouflage. They are mostly well camouflaged and they can change colour, but they do not change colour to match their surroundings. The colour changes as its physical status changes and as a form of communication. Octopuses seem to change colour as a form of camouflage (but also as a way of communicating). [cite web | url=http://science.howstuffworks.com/animal-camouflage2.htm | title=How Animal Camouflage Works | publisher=How Stuff Works | first=Tom | last=Harris | accessdate=2006-11-13]
*Dogs and cats are often thought to be completely colour-blind and see the world in scales of grey. That is wrong. They do have colour vision, dichromate, but not nearly as good as that of humans, trichromate i.e. red, green and blue light.Fact|date=April 2008

Other meanings

The word "factoid" is now sometimes also used to mean a small piece of "true" but valueless or insignificant information, in contrast to the original definition. This has been popularized by the CNN Headline News TV channel, which, during the 1980s and 1990s, used to frequently include such a fact under the heading "factoid" during newscasts. In the United Kingdom, BBC Radio 2 presenter Steve Wright uses factoids extensively on his show. [cite book | author = Wright, Steve | title=Steve Wright's Book of Factoids| publisher=HarperCollins Entertainment| year=2005 | id=ISBN 0-00-720660-7]

As a result of confusion over the meaning of factoid, some English-language style and usage guides recommend against its use. [cite book | author = Brians, Paul | title=Common Errors in English Usage| publisher=William James & Company| year=2003 | id=ISBN 1-887902-89-9 [http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/factoid.html] ] Language expert William Safire in his "On Language" column advocated the use of the word "factlet" to express a "little bit of arcana" [William Safire, "On Language; Only the Factoids," New York Times, Sunday, 5 December 1993.] .


ee also

*Talking point

External links

* [http://samvak.tripod.com/factoidsindex.html Cyclopedia of Factoids]
* [http://gullible.info Gullible.info, Compendium of Factoids]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • factoid — 1973, from FACT (Cf. fact) + OID (Cf. oid), first explained, if not coined, by Norman Mailer. Factoids ... that is, facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • factoid — ☆ factoid [fak′toid΄ ] n. [ FACT + OID] a single fact or statistic variously regarded as being trivial, useless, unsubstantiated, etc …   English World dictionary

  • factoid — UK [ˈfæktɔɪd] / US [ˈfækˌtɔɪd] noun [countable] Word forms factoid : singular factoid plural factoids a piece of information that becomes accepted as true because it is repeated very often …   English dictionary

  • factoid — n. & adj. n. an assumption or speculation that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact; a simulated or imagined fact. adj. being or having the character of a factoid; containing factoids …   Useful english dictionary

  • Factoid (album) — Infobox Album Name = Oid Type = Studio album Artist = Space Manoeuvres Released = July 2005 Recorded = Genre = Progressive house, breaks Length = ??:?? Label = Lost Language Producer = John Graham Reviews = Last album = This album = Next album =… …   Wikipedia

  • factoid — noun Date: 1973 1. an invented fact believed to be true because of its appearance in print 2. a briefly stated and usually trivial fact …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • factoid — factoidal, adj. /fak toyd/, n. 1. an insignificant or trivial fact. 2. something fictitious or unsubstantiated that is presented as fact, devised esp. to gain publicity and accepted because of constant repetition. [1973; FACT + OID] * * * …   Universalium

  • factoid — noun a) An inaccurate statement or statistic believed to be true because of broad repetition, especially if cited in the media. b) An interesting item of trivia …   Wiktionary

  • factoid — fac|toid [ fæk,tɔıd ] noun count a piece of information that becomes accepted as true because it is repeated very often …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • factoid — Factoids are a series of facts or truths on a related subject. She was pumping me for factoids about her ex roomie, but I clammed up …   Dictionary of american slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”