11 December 2009


What's the difference between "fact" and "factoid"?

My inclination was to say that "factoid" was a smaller little tidbit of a fact. Andw's inclination was that "factoid" was more interesting and requiring a more elaborate story behind it.

Let's see.

FACT: something that actually exists; reality; truth.
comes from the Latin factum > factus > facere

facere means "to do" in Latin, like "faire" in French, "fare" in Italian, "fazer" in Portuguese or "hacer" in Spanish. (I'm working on a post RIGHT NOW about how f became h somewhere along the Latin to Spanish lines.)

FACTOID: an insignificant or trivial fact OR something fictitious or unsubstantiated that is presented as fact, devised esp. to gain publicity and accepted because of constant repetition
-OID is a suffix meaning “resembling,” “like,” used in the formation of adjectives and nouns (and often implying an incomplete or imperfect resemblance to what is indicated by the preceding element)

I like the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language because it makes ridiculous assertions... like:
  • 73% of their official English language usage panel approve of and understand "factoid" to mean: a piece of information that seems to be true simply due to its repition
  • only 43% of that panel approve of using "factoid" as a brief, somewhat interesting fact and that it might better have been called a factette.


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