It’s Word Wednesday!

Here’s an interesting word: factoid. How does it differentiate from the word fact?

Factoid used to have only one meaning, that is, “an item of unreliable information that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.” Example: He addresses the facts and factoids which have buttressed the film’s legend.

Over time, however, and perhaps after many missteps, factoid gained another meaning particularly in North America, that is, “a brief or trivial item of news or information.” Example: How does the brain retain factoids that you remember from a history test at school?

The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary provides two definitions:

  1. something that is widely accepted as a fact, although it is probably not true
  2. a small piece of interesting information, especially about something that is not very important. Example: Here’s a pop factoid for you.

Merriam-Webster Learner’s Dictionary, on the other hand, provides only one: “a brief and usually unimportant fact.” Example: The book is really just a collection of interesting factoids.

Photo credit: Escher’s “Relativity” in Lego



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