[Ads-l] dihydrogen monoxide

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 6 12:20:21 UTC 2016

Some students of Northwestern University used the phrase "drank
dihydrogen monoxide" in their 1910 yearbook in a humorous piece that
recounted the comical tale of a bacillus and a microbe travelling in a
human body.

The following excerpt probably contains OCR errors. It was difficult
to double-check because it contained deliberately misspelled words (or
typos from the printer).

Year: 1910
Title: The Syllabus - Northwestern Year Book
Volume 25
Publisher: T. R. Johnston for the Class of 1910 of Northwestern
University, Evanston, Illinois
Article Title: An Explanation of a Natural Phenomenon
Start Page 533, Quote Page 533
Database: HathiTrust Full View


[Begin excerpt]
To reach their destination they went by way of the Eustachion tube
which landed them close to the desired place. Before proceeding they
took time to elutriate the dust from their integument and to take
refreshments. In the shade of an arbor vitae cerebelli, they sat down,
one on a synonial fat pad and the other on an endocardial cushion.
>From optic cups they drank dihydrogen monoxide, and from ethmoidal
plates they ate fried Stenson's ducts and Adam's apples until their
tate huds refused to respond to the reflex centers in the midulla
oblongati. While seated hear music was heard and a debate was held as
to whether it was the Band of Baillanger or the Band of Meckel which
[End excerpt]

In 1959 the term appeared in a textbook called "Modern Chemistry". It
was used without humor as an alternative chemical name for H2O.

Year: 1959
Title: Modern Chemistry
Authors: John F. Baxter and Luke E. Steiner
Volume 1
Note: Especially prepared for Continental classroom (television course)
Publisher: Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
Quote Page 43 and 44
Database: HathiTrust Full View


[Begin excerpt]
The advantage of a systematic name is that it indicates the formula of
a compound. Some names, such as water and sugar, which were in common
use before the composition of their compounds was known, are called
"trivial" names. The terms "hydrogen oxide," "dihydrogen oxide," or
"dihydrogen monoxide" are corresponding systematic names for water.
[End excerpt]

There is a match in Google books with a GB year if 1962 that shows the
phrase "crystals of dihydrogen monoxide" being used with humor.

Year: 1962 according to GB
Journal: National Safety Congress Transactions
Volume 1
Publisher: National Safety Congress (U.S.)
Quote Page GB 13
Database: Google Books Snippet View; data may be inaccurate and should
be verified on paper; searching for 1962 and 1963 yields snippets that
are compatible with the year 1962.

[Begin extracted text]
Also, proposed for inclusion is Cyclohexane, a -- 40 [degree] F flash
point liquid; Ethyl Alcohol, the hazards of which are well known to
many; they say it is somewhat hazardous with crystals of dihydrogen
monoxide and a little tonic water or vermouth, but then I'm not here
to repeat hearsay evidence.
[End extracted text]


On Sun, Mar 6, 2016 at 12:21 AM, Clai Rice <cxr1086 at louisiana.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Clai Rice <cxr1086 at LOUISIANA.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: dihydrogen monoxide
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Memories can be tricky, but I'm pretty sure I remember "be careful, this dihydrogen monoxide burns" as a middle school joke exactly on par with "your epidermis is showing." That would have been between 1974-77.
> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Benjamin Barrett" <mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM>
>> Sent: Saturday, March 5, 2016 10:04:05 PM
>> Subject: dihydrogen monoxide
>> I learned in chemistry that water is never referred to by its chemical name,
>> dihydrogen monoxide, but for some time now, people have been making spoof
>> warnings of the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide and posting them on social
>> media. Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dihydrogen_monoxide
>> <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dihydrogen_monoxide>) has this as a word and
>> Wikipedia has it as a hoax
>> (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dihydrogen_monoxide_hoax), dating it to 1983,
>> which is before I took chemistry. The Oxford Dictionary site does not have
>> this word.
>> Benjamin Barrett
>> Formerly of Seattle, WA
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list