Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


A.Word.A.Day

About | Media | Search | Contact  


Home

Today's Word

Subscribe

Archives



Aug 7, 2019
This week’s theme
Words borrowed (adopted) from other languages

This week’s words
cordillera
bondieuserie
pareidolia
akratic
satyagraha

pareidolia
Image: Jef Safi

Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

pareidolia

PRONUNCIATION:
(per-eye-DOH-lee-uh)

MEANING:
noun: The tendency to see a specific pattern or meaningful images in random stimulus.

ETYMOLOGY:
From German Pareidolien, from Greek para- (along) + eidolon (image), from eidos (form, idea). Ultimately from the Indo-European root weid- (to see), which also gave us wise, view, supervise, wit, eidetic, eidos, vidimus, previse, hades, guy, invidious, and vizard. Earliest documented use: 1962.

NOTES:
It’s human nature to see patterns where there might be none. If you have ever seen an elephant in the clouds, you have experienced pareidolia. Pareidolia is also responsible for constellations appearing in the shape of animals (Ursa major, Leo, etc.), profiles of men appearing on rock faces, Rorschach inkblot tests, UFO sightings, and Jesus on toast. While toast appears to be his favorite, he has also appeared on tortillas, chapatis, and potato chips. But you don’t have be at the mercy of random patterns and their whims. Command pareidolia with Grilled Cheesus Sandwich Press, or, even better, have your own face appear on toast, no random numbers required. If you are a do-it-yourself type, here are instructions to have your own divinity appear on toast.

USAGE:
“Perhaps pareidolia explains how changing clouds inspired widespread reports of armies in the sky during the political upheavals of the 1600s.”
Paul Simons; Weather Eye; The Times (London, UK); Mar 23, 2017.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No amount of belief makes something a fact. -James Randi, magician and skeptic (b. 7 Aug 1928)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere

Donate

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2019 Wordsmith