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I've Heard of That — What Is It?
Lisa: [gasps] That sounds like Sideshow Bob!
Homer: Yes, ma'am. Sideshow Bob, yakking it up on the old yak box.
Lisa: Dad, I'll spare you the embarrassment of admitting you don't know who Sideshow Bob is.
Homer: Phew!
—>— The Simpsons, "Sideshow Bob Roberts"

A character (often The Ditz) encounters a word or phrase, and makes some comment expressing what he thinks about the thing the word refers to — just before revealing that actually, he doesn't know the word at all. ("Lorem Ipsum is terrible! By the way, what's Lorem Ipsum?")

If the character doesn't outright imply that he knows what the thing is, but is willing to venture a guess, that guess will likely be Is It Something You Eat? While that trope overlaps with this one, it generally involves an honest uncertainty, while this one is about dishonest certainty ("Of course I know that gazebos are something you eat.")

The thing in question just might turn out to be a Henway.

Sub-Trope of Feigning Intelligence, although the feigning is usually quite brief before the character admits she really doesn't know what she's talking about. Not to be confused with Malaproper, which is when the character misuses words without knowing that he don't know what the words mean (honest, but false, certainty). Completing the quadrangle is Obfuscating Stupidity, which is dishonest uncertainty/ignorance.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Yotsuba&!: Upon being told that they got tickets to Water World, Yotsuba says, "Ohhh! That place!?" Jumbo asks whether she knows it: "... Not really."
  • In one episode of Di Gi Charat Nyo, the town is out of natto, so Gramps suggests going to the next town over to get some. Gran immediately gets spooked, but then asks, "Where is the next town, anyway?"
  • In Black Butler, Lau does this all the time. While investigating Jack the Ripper, Ciel announces to his companions that to get information on the killer they must go see... and Lau reacts in shock/horror. When they reach the location of their informant (the Undertaker), Lau finally asks, "So where are we?"
  • The first episode of Sailor Moon had this exchange.
    Naru: Did you hear? Sailor V stopped another robbery!
    Usagi: That's so cool!
    Naru: Isn't it?
    Usagi: What's a Sailor V?

    Films — Animation 
  • In My Little Pony Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks, Twilight mentions to her Equestrian friends that the trouble caused by the Dazzlings sounds like the work of the Sirens. Pinkie Pie gasps in horror "NOT THE SIRENS!", then stage-whispers to Fluttershy "I don't actually know what that is..."
  • In the Aladdin sequel The Return of Jafar, after Sultan announces that he wants to make Aladdin the royal vizier, Genie pretends to be a newsman and souvenir seller announcing the new Royal Vizier and repeating the phrase several times, only to turn to Sultan afterwards and ask "What's a royal vizier?"
  • In The Three Caballeros, Panchito's gift to Donald is a piñata. Donald says, "Oh boy, oh boy! A piñata!... What's a piñata?"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Enchanted: Justified as Edward and Giselle came from a fairy tale realm where the custom was to meet one day, fall in love and wed the next. Now both are in the human world.
    Giselle: I want to go on a date.
    Edward: (excited voice) A date!... What's a date?
  • In The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Boris (in cartoon form on a TV set) asks Minnie Mogul about producing a Rocky and Bullwinkle movie. She leaps at the proposition before asking him what is Rocky and Bullwinkle.
  • In The Fellowship of the Ring, at the foundation of the Fellowship, Merry and Pippin barge in and vocaly and adamantly declare that they are joining the crew. Nobody really objects, and all seems settled, and then Pippin cheerfuly asks where exactly will they be heading.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Ted once gushed about how his current Girl of the Week was taking classes in Krav Maga (an Israeli system of hand-to-hand combat). When she leaves, he admits that he doesn't really know what it is, but presumes it's some kind of yoga. He later finds out when she beats him up for breaking up with her... on her birthday... for the second time.
  • On Parks and Recreation, Andy's response when Tom offers him a job at Entertainment 720: "Oh my God. What is that?"
  • On Community we get this exchange:
    Dean: The prize was a Blu-ray DVD player... but it got stolen. So now it's TBD!
    Troy: I want TBD! Is that new?
  • One of Max's Catch Phrases on Get Smart was "A [X]! Of course, a [X]! Just one thing — what's a [X]?"
  • This exchange in Victorious:
    Jade: Our pristine little friend Cat has never had a taco.
    Cat: I'm not that pristine. (pause) Wait, what's pristine mean?
  • In the Doctor Who serial "City of Death":
    Guard: Soon, you will be interrogated by Captain Tancredi.
    The Doctor: Captain Tancredi?!
    Guard: Do you know him?
    The Doctor: No.
  • On LOST, Sawyer reacts badly to the news he has hyperopia... but asks what it is. Hyperopia is being far-sighted.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin is told that dinner will be tortellini, and complains at length about how disgusting it is. In the last panel, he's looking up the word in the dictionary.
  • Truman does this often in Liberty Meadows.
    Dean: Hey Truman, want to play football with us?
    'Truman: (dancing around'') Football? Oh joy! There's nothing like football! Um... what's "football", sir?

  • Pulled several different ways on The Goon Show, including:
    Major Bloodnok: Neddie Seagoon? I didn't recognise you!
    Ned Seagoon: Why not?
    Bloodnok: I've never seen you before!

  • In the musical The Book of Mormon, upon hearing that he and his mission companion are being sent to Uganda, Elder Cunningham exclaims "Uganda? COOL! ...where is that?"

    • Pohatu does this as a Running Gag.
      Pohatu: A Toa? Oh great, I've always wanted to be a Toa! Just one thing... What's a Toa?
    • Later...
      Pohatu: ...What's a Bohrok?
    • And again:
      Pohatu: ...What's a Rahkshi?
    • One more time:
      Pohatu: ...What's a Solek?

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive has a case of this in the mini-arc "Catnip":
    Tedd: (jumping) Catnip!!!!
    Grace: (joining him) Yay catnip!!! ...what's catnip?

    Web Original 
  • The Tale of the Dread Gazebo is based around this Trope.
  • From Alex Reads Twilight, we have a variation: "Fucking Lauren, man. What the fuck is Lauren in this book? Just coming in, ruining our protagonist's life, I hate Lauren! Who's Lauren??"

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama, "Love's Labours Lost in Space":
    Leela: That's Zapp Brannigan's ship.
    Fry: The Zapp Brannigan?
    Leela: Uh-huh.
    Fry: Who's the Zapp Brannigan?
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • "Opposite Day":
      Patrick: Opposite Day? Hey, I've heard of that!
      SpongeBob: You have?
      Patrick: No! What is it?
    • In "Tea at the Treedome", Sandy mentions that she needs to breathe air, and SpongeBob replies, "Me too!" Then he goes to Patrick and asks him what air is. Naturally, Patrick gives him the wrong information and Hilarity Asphyxiation Ensues.
    • In "Pretty Patties" the Krusty Krab is robbed of (yet another) customer when a man runs in and says that a different restaurant has a talking dog. The customer goes with him because he thinks it's cool, and then asks what a dog is.
  • The quote at the top of this page is from The Penguins of Madagascar. Marlene, having been born in captivity, is shown to be completely unfamiliar with life outside the zoo. She even goes feral upon leaving zoo grounds.
  • The writers of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic seem to like this joke:
    • In "The Ticket Master", Rarity tells Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle that The Grand Galloping Gala is where she's destined to meet "Him!" Pinkie Pie immediately echoes her with an admiring "Him!" only to follow it with "Who?"
    • Pinkie Pie has a similar reaction in "Sonic Rainboom" on hearing about the eponymous stunt Rainbow Dash is trying to master.
    • In "Pinkie Pride", Fluttershy reacts with shock when Pinkie Pie challenges Cheese Sandwich to a Goof-Off... then admits to Applejack that she doesn't know what a Goof-Off is.
  • In one episode of Pound Puppies (2010), McLeish describes his plans for an adoption fair, and Olaf approves: "I just love adoption fairs. Even though I've never been to one before. In fact, I don't even know what one is."
  • Phineas and Ferb, "Cheer Up, Candace!": Candace and Stacy are in a comedy club Phineas and Ferb built in their efforts to cheer up Candace:
    Ferb: What's the deal with airline food?
    (audience laughs)
    Stacy: (laughing) What's airline food?
  • GIR from Invader Zim pulls this quite a lot. Often with things that he has previously proven beyond all doubt that he understands.
  • In Archer, when Sterling reveals he has cancer, everyone gasps. Then Cheryl/Carol asks what cancer is. Later in the episode, she still doesn't know what cancer is.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "Texas City Twister" when Hank and Bobby drive to the Megalo Mart to buy some fuel filters a riot has broken out because of the tornado and Hank reluctantly purchases a pack for 60 dollars, when suddenly an old woman runs up to the counter and says "Hurry honey this jackass is buying all the fuel filters!", her husband replies "Leave some for us jackass!" and a woman says "I need a fuel filter!, what are they for?, I need one!".
  • Botch in The Hair Bear Bunch episode "Panda Pandemonium" after he and Peevly discover Percy, a baby panda who was displaced from his transport to the St. Louis Zoo:
    Botch: A panda? Gosh! A panda! A real live panda!....what's a panda?
  • The Hector Heathcote cartoon "Pig In A Poke" demonstrates its title with Hector assigned to accompany Lewis and Clark to see if the Louisiana Purchase is worth executing. His dog, Winston, posits this at the end:
    Winston: There's just one thing that's puzzled me from the very start. What is a pig in a poke?
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Bugs & Daffy Get a Job", Dr. Weisberg tells Daffy that he has a deviated septum. Daffy's reaction is to snap "I do not!" and slap Weisberg, before asking "What's a septum?".

I've Got an X and I'm Not Afraid to Use ItStock PhrasesI've Never Seen Anything Like This Before
Feigning IntelligenceStupidity TropesFat Idiot

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