PM Jim Hacker: ...You mean you've lost your key?
A joke based on describing something mundane using such technical language that it takes the audience a while to work out what's being talked about (though a Translator Buddy usually catches it right away).
Mostly limited to Speculative Fiction, where it can be seamlessly slotted into the standard Expospeak, but occasionally turns up in other genres, especially when the characters are meant to be especially intelligent or academic, such as scientists or doctors.
Sometimes used as a form of Unusual Euphemism or to facilitate an Oops... I Did It Again plot where someone assumes the technical explanation refers to something much more serious than it really does.
Can be used to implement a Tomato Surprise, ("Their only weakness is dihydrogen monoxide!"), or serve as a MacGuffin as the hero engages in an Evidence Scavenger Hunt to work out what the Expospeak really means (For example, the hero is told that the Monster of the Week is a "lycanthrope", and then has to spend the next few scenes doing research to discover that "lycanthrope" is another word for "werewolf"). This second variety is dangerous, as you often run the risk of making the hero look like a complete moron if the Expospeak isn't impenetrable enough.
A subtrope of Bathos.
- In Austria, there was a commercial having a young, enthusiastic manager do a presentation about his new energy drink, rich in pure water and vitamins, without additives, tasty etc. The advertisement concludes with his boss responding: "That's really nice and all. But nothing new. We have apples, already."
- In the mid 90s, around the time that businesses were just starting to use the internet to do stuff that we now take for granted as basic things to do when in business, IBM (as a manufacturer of much of the hardware used for commercial computer systems) ran a series of adverts involving a typical IT team interacting with the company execs. One of them featured a subversion of this trope:
Exec's PA: David, the meeting starts in ten minutes, what do we tell them about why we're developing this website thing?IT Guy: [Draws breath, raises finger]...Exec's PA: [Interrupting] In language they can understandIT Guy: [After a few seconds' thought] Tell them that for every penny they spend, they'll get four pennies back
- Lyrical Nanoha
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Signum, an artificial Human Alien, does this in the third Sound Stage when she finds some of the cast trying to get Fate to sing on "that music terminal and microphone connected Device".
Shamal: Really now, start trying to remember this world's terminologies. It's called "Karaoke".
- Also, in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers supplementary manga, Cinque calls bathing "sanitary maintenance".
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Signum, an artificial Human Alien, does this in the third Sound Stage when she finds some of the cast trying to get Fate to sing on "that music terminal and microphone connected Device".
- Koushiro "Izzy" Izumi from Digimon Adventure is notorious for this trope, though it is far more common in the English dub than in the original Japanese.
Izzy: Stress accumulates until a crack develops, and with excess weight, the terrafirma isn't so firma.
- After taking Amy hostage in the first episode of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, Ledo tasks Chamber with analyzing the local language and figuring out what she's shouting about. Turns out it was a Cluster F-Bomb.
Chamber: Those were statements regarding reproduction with one's mother, as well as sanctified excrement.Ledo: As I thought, they're savages!
- In Yuyushiki, when Ditzy Genius Yuzuko found out water can be called "oxidane," she made up lines like "pour oxidane on dumplings, then cover," in which both Yui and Yukari found to be scarier than it should be.
- In Spark's origin issue of Legends of the Legion the villain Slopp talks entirely in phrases like "Undifferentiated from pilfering confectionery from a suckling!" Amusingly, his boss, High-Brow, who prides himself on his intelligence, hasn't a clue what Slopp is saying.
- This is a constant source of friction between best friends Reed Richards and Ben Grimm. Reed is a genius and will never use four words where forty will do, whereas Ben is straight to the point and has no patience for Reed's technobabble.
- In one chapter of Superman & Batman: Generations, Lex Luthor says he created a Time Travel field "generated when acetylsalicylic acid is irradiated at a 108 megahertz frequency"...or in plain English, he irradiated aspirin with an FM radio. He's done similar feats before.
- In Titans (Rebirth) #24, Miss Martian says "The fecal matter has just intersected with the spinning blades of the cooling device". J'onn tells her she needs to work on her Earth idioms.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged
Gohan: I'm going to eviscerate you, and use your gastrointestinal tract as a condom while I fornicate with your skull!
- What Gohan does when he goes berserk.
Gohan: I'm gonna skullf*ck you!!
Gohan: Law of mass dictates that the mass of an object dramatically increases the force of impact when said object collides with the ground, and with your size, you'll make an extensively large impact upon your inevitable defeat.
- Later, Gohan again:
Vegeta (in Oozaru form), and Goku: What?
Gohan: The bigger they are, the harder they fall!
- An Eyrie Productions Unlimited forum bonus, lampshading the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
GENOM MILARM testing report: This weapon experienced considerable difficulty in targeting the lateral elevation of an agricultural storage facility. You can't hit the broad side of a barn with this thing!
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero:
Yuki: At this juncture, I will attempt to communicate something to you, though I am uncertain as to the accuracy of the transmission. Words remain a weak vector for communicating vital information. Despite the lack of adherence to social norms and the correct protocols for this procedure, I am attempting to convey to you the positive emotive content of my current condition and regards for you. The outcome is uncertain; no accurate prediction can be made. Regardless of the fact that determination is unclear, I have resolved to continue due to the content of the emotive concept I wish to relay. Despite the fact that I have no comparable metric, I am currently unable to conceive a greater intensity than the one I experience at this moment in relation to you.
Yuki: I attempted to use more words. It appears that the data was not conveyed accurately.
Kyon: C...can you try it again with less, maybe?
Yuki: Yes. I like you. A lot.
- Calvin and Hobbes: The Series has Thunderstorm revealing Shadow's Concentrated Electrical Manipulator.
- In chapter 22 of Earth and Sky, when Twilight asks Doctor Insanity what exactly he has a doctorate in, he responds with "osculate-my-rump-onomy". "Osculate my rump" means "kiss my ass".
- In the Ponies Of Olympus series, Shining says he didn't forgot to tell Twilight he was participating in the Atlas Strongest Tournament, he just "failed to mention due to cognitive flatulence" (read: he had a brain fart). Twilight says that she's too smart for using big words to confuse the issue (though she admits she used to do the same thing to Cadence).
- In Mutant Storm, this was invoked to appease Professor Xavier when Logan and Harry wish to leave the Death Eaters a gift in place of the kidnapped Jean.
- In Comes The Cold Dragon, most of the second half of Chapter 2 is an overly long Expospeak Gag going into great detail about Happosai triggering a bar brawl in order to prevent the interruption of a waitress performing certain services for the old lecher and using a very drunken Soun and Genma as distractions, which lead toward Happi being tossed in jail, Genma tossed in the panda cage at the zoo, and Soun passed out with the waitress's drunken exboyfriend who Soun used as a makeshift naginata, passed out next to him.
- In Step by Step, Spock tells McCoy that "[the ship] needed to be unable to receive any further communications" from the admiralty before he could get Kirk off the bridge. Kirk asks him if he means that "You and Scotty sabotaged the comm system so [the admiral] won't realize [he's] not up there."
- Turnabout Storm has one by Twilight combined with Comically Missing the Point after Sonata testifies, without breaking her glare, that she cried.
Phoenix: You... cried...?
Twilight: Yes! It's a complex secretomotor phenomenon characterized by the shedding of tears from the lacrimal apparatus, without any irritation of the ocular structures...
Phoenix: I know what crying is! I just can't see her crying!
- From The Aristocats Island:
Jenny Searchanfind: You know something? I think these items may well be instrumental in securing for us deliverance from our enforced isolation.
Berlioz: Not only that, we might get rescued!
- Strange Times Are Upon Us:
Ila'kshath: This is what happened. Our weapons fire mixed with the Breens' transphasic weapons, plus with the theta-verteron particles in the vicinity of that micronebula, produced a subspace distortion. A class four quantum singularity.
Brokosh: Okay, Ila'kshath, remember what I said about technobabble?
Ila'kshath: We accidentally made a wormhole, General.
- From Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear uses quite a few of these: He refers to tape as "unidirectional bonding strip," pizza delivery as "jettisoning food supply," and seatbelts as "restraining harnesses."
- From The Rescuers Down Under:
Mouse Doctor: (to the nurses) Bring me the epidermal tissue disruptor!
Wilbur: The epidermal what?
(The mouse nurses hoist a chainsaw over Wilbur's hospital bed.)
- Chicken Run features this after Rocky wakes up with a bandaged wing:
Rocky: Ouch! What happened to my wing?Ginger: You took a rather nasty fall.Mac: And sprained the anterior tendon connecting your radius to your humerus. I gave her a wee bit of a tweak, Jimmy, and wrapped her up.Rocky: Was that English?Ginger: She said you hurt your wing. She fixed it.
- In Aliens the gadget used to track the Alien detects "micro changes in air density." In other words, it's a microphone.
- In Back to the Future, Dr. Emmett Brown sees a poster for the school dance and tells Marty there's a "rhythmic ceremonial ritual" coming up.
- Subverted in Big Trouble in Little China, where Egg Shen uses what appears to be expospeak to clarify meaning something mystically as opposed to technically:
Egg Shen: Black blood of the earth!
Jack: You mean oil?
Egg Shen: No, I mean black blood of the earth!
- Played straight later when a visibly-annoyed Shen stands by idly while Jack Burton describes at length how a potion is making him feel positive, confident, and strong; it's implied Shen may have simply gotten Burton a little drunk.
- The Coneheads from Coneheads
Beldar: It is time for mid-day cessation of activities for carbo-protein intake.
- This exchange:
Otto: Yeah, sure. Take a lunch break.
Prymatt: ...consume mass quantities of molten lactate extract of hoofed mammals on a starched disk.
Beldar: Ah. Pizza. I shall enjoy!
High Master: Ford Lincoln Mercury Sable?
- Reversed the gag in this example:
Beldar: A personal conveyance named after its inventor, an assassinated ruler, a character from Greco-Roman myth and a small furry mammal.
- Howard the Duck features a pizza being described as "It's a circular Italian food object."
- I, Robot:
Spooner: So, Dr. Calvin, what exactly do you do around here?
Calvin: My general fields are advanced robotics and psychiatry. I specialize in hardware-to-wetware interfaces to advance USR's robotic anthropomorphization program.
Spooner: So, what exactly do you do around here?
Calvin: I make the robots seem more human.
Spooner: Now, wasn't that easier to say?
Calvin: Not really, no.
- In National Treasure, Ben tells Abigail that the back of the Declaration of Independence contains "an encryption" of "a cartograph" showing "the location of hidden items of historic and intrinsic value." "You mean a treasure map?" "That's where we lost the FBI." (And the Smithsonian, the NSA, etc.)
- In the Bond movie Never Say Never Again, an aging 007 is sent to a health spa for a strict health regimen. When Moneypenny asks what his "mission" is, he says "I'm to eliminate all free radicals." Moneypenny looks concerned "Oh, do be careful, James."
- From Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:
Elizabeth: Captain Barbossa, I am here to negotiate the cessation of hostilities against Port Royal.
Barbossa: There be a lot of long words in there, miss. We're naught but humble pirates. What is it that you want?
Elizabeth: I want you to leave and never come back.
Barbossa: I'm disinclined to acquiesce to your request.
Elizabeth: (blank stare)
Barbossa: Means "no".
- The Shadow movie, set in the 1930s:
Roy Tam: I guess you could call it an implosive, explosive, sub-molecular device.
Lamont Cranston: Or... an Atomic Bomb.
Roy Tam: Say, that's catchy.
- The 2009 Star Trek film gives us this gem of an inversion, when raw recruit Sulu can't get the ship to move:
Pike: (jokingly) Is the parking brake on?
Sulu: Uh, no sir. I'll figure it out.
Spock: Have you disengaged the external inertial damper?
Sulu: (looks embarrassed as he disengages the external inertial damper) Ready for warp, sir.
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home has Dr. McCoy bully his way past hospital guards by shouting that his patient had, "acute post-prandial upper-abdominal distension," which is to say, "cramps".
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze involves The Professor (played by David Warner) asking Michaelangelo to pass him a vial of dimethyl chlorinide. Quips Mikey, "I don't mean to criticize science, but wouldn't it be easier just to call it 'the pink one'?"
- Played for Drama in 2001: A Space Odyssey. When Hal cuts off the life support for the three hibernating astronauts, an alarm goes off and a monitor flashes "Computer Malfunction" then "Life Functions Critical". A systems status monitor shows the astronauts' bodily functions flatlining one by one (and in a subtle, disturbing note, the last function to go — "Central Nervous System", i.e., the brain — goes haywire for several seconds before flatlining, hinting that the astronauts' deaths were anything but painless). Finally, the alarm shuts off, and the monitor flashes the message "Life Functions Terminated."
- Batman Begins. After Lucius Fox finishes explaining exactly how he derived the antidote for Crane's fear toxin:
Lucius Fox: I analyzed your blood, isolating the receptor compounds and the protein-based catalyst.Bruce Wayne: Am I supposed to understand any of that?Lucius Fox: No. I just wanted you to know how hard it was.
- In Avengers: Age of Ultron, after Maria Hill confusingly describes the Twins' abilities as 'increased metabolism and improved thermal homeostasis' and 'neuro-electric interfacing, telekinesis and mental manipulation' to Steve, she simplifies her brief drastically.
Maria: He's fast and she's weird.
- A professor is doing a chemical experiment with his students. Suddenly things start going wrong. The professor says:
"This is a classic example of a link between scatologynote and mechanics: shit's about to hit the fan".
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels:
- The Colour of Magic, the Earth counterpart of one of the characters is described as "a specialist in the breakaway oxidation phenomena of certain nuclear reactors" (i.e. uncontrolled fires in nuclear reactors). Terry Pratchett worked in a nuclear plant before he became a Famous Author.
- Mr Slant of the Guild of Lawyers would often say things in the Old Language (i.e. Dog Latin) to give his interpretation of Ankh-Morpork's ad hoc legal system a veneer of legitimacy (for instance Acquiris Quodcumque Rapis, "You Get What You Grab").
- Leonard of Quirm has a strange habit of coming up with Clock Punk versions of familiar devices and giving them very densely verbose names. For example, after inventing the first submarine:
Leonard: Because it is submersed in a marine environment, I call it the Going-Under-The-Water-Safely Device.
- The description of Harga's menu in Mort:
"They don't go in for the fancy or exotic, but stick to conventional food like flightless bird embryos, minced organs in intestine skins, slices of hog flesh and burnt ground grass seeds dipped in animal fats; or, as it is known in their patois, egg, soss and bacon and a fried slice."
- In Sourcery, a magic carpet would fly to the command "down" due to "laminar and spatial arrangements", or, more simply, because it was put on the floor upside-down.
- In Jingo, Willkins warns Sam Vimes, "Lady Sybil has vouchsafed to me that if you are not there she will utilize your intestines for hosiery accessories, sir." In other words (and probably the ones Sybil used), she'll have his guts for garters.
- In The Dark Side of the Sun, one of Pratchett's characters pulled "You are now recumbent water-fowl of the Genus Anatidae. I repeat, you are now sitting ducks."
- In one of the Wizards books, Ponder asks Ridcully "Do you think it's a thaumivore?" and Ridcully says "No, I just think it eats magic."
- In John R. Erickson's Hank the Cowdog series, the titular canine narrator is given to describing his sensory organs as though they were sophisticated machinery:
"... As I recall the scene, I was reclined on my gunny sack bad, hovering in the twilight zone between watchfulness and more or less complete oblivion. In other words, although my more critical faculties were pretty muchly in neutral, I continued to monitor all sounds and earatory data in the Ready Room of my mind."
- Pretty much everything in The Eye of Argon is (perhaps unintentionally) described in this fashion. As an example, eyes are probably more often referred to as "[colour] orbs" and "organs of sight" than just "eyes".
- As in other series which blur the line between fantasy and science fiction, Steven Brust includes coded references to modern things in the seemingly Renaissance-y Dragaera universe. In one memorable instance, there is a reference to characters eating "the house bread" with some kind of fish spread. In modern terms, this is bagels and lox cream cheese.
- Good Omens mocks this:
Tommy: Mom, if any throughput eventuates premising to interface with Sgt. Thomas A. Deisenburger telephonically, Mom, sir, this individual will be—
Mom: Sorry, Tommy?
Tommy: I said, if anyone calls, Mom, I'll be down in the Big Field, with Pop and Chester and Ted.
- The Dresden Files has Harry describing a plant monster in narration as a "chlorofiend" because he feels silly saying "plant monster". It doesn't work, as he eventually has to use "plant monster" when everyone else wonders what a "chlorofiend" is.
- Often happens with Telemain and his Magi Babble in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles; nearly all of it makes perfect sense if you happen to have a dictionary or someone with a very large vocabulary handy.
- The Temps story "Pitbull Brittan" by Jack Yeovil opens with Brittan's papers regarding his transfer from One Para to the Department of Paranormal Resources. The DPR official is suspicious, believing "this is an oblatory equine situation, and we should acquire the services of a veterinarian dentist". (They should look the gift horse in the mouth.)
- In The Legends of Ethshar series, wizards can get answers to yes-or-no questions by using the Spell of the Eighth Sphere, which makes runes appear in a black crystal globe. In other words, a Magic 8 Ball.
- In his essay, "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell once translated the famous passage from Ecclesiastes 9:11 ("I returned and saw under the sun, that the race was not to the swift...") into what he called "modern English of the worst sort":
"Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account."
- Dark Future: Dr. Blakeley pulls one in Comeback Tour.
"This isn't supposed to happen; he's not a subject, he's GenTech brass. The faecal matter just collided with the ventilation system."
- Leif Helgarson of The Iron Druid Chronicles is a repeat offender.
- To wit: "I should like to take this opportunity to name you Sherlock and point out that there is no shit."
- In The Bacta War, Rogue Squadron has discovered that their old X-Wings are being surplussed out. Tycho notes to Wedge that the fighters are missing a critical part, the PL-1. Wedge asks him what a PL-1 is. Turns out that's bean-counter-ese for "pilot".
- In Foundation's Edge, a customs official refers to his superior as a 'sanguinary person born of an irregular union'. In other words, he calls him a bloody bastard.
- The author of Professor Mmaa's Lecture enjoys making the termite scientists speak in highly elaborate terms, such as calling all species that aren't termites with their Latin names.
- In one of the Star Trek novels, there is this line: "The Tellerite nobleman's cries of rage were indicative of his species' porcine evolutionary antecedents; or, to put it more vulgarly, he squealed like a stuck pig."
- In the forward to I Am Spock by Leonard Nimoy, Mr Spock's reaction to the title is to ask Nimoy "To indulge in a human colloquialism: Have you lost your small glass gaming spheres?"
- Humanx Commonwealth: Alan Dean Foster's early work in this series is noted for Purple Prose, including characters who speak in elaborately technical terms as a kind of Verbal Tic. Sometimes it's also a one-off gag, as in Bloodhype, when Mal Hammurabi describes the well-deserved spanking he's about to give to Kitten Kai-Sung as "eleemosynary chastisement", by way of demonstrating to her that he is not as dumb as his size and looks would indicate.
- In the Touhou spinoff Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia, one chapter deals with Rinnosuke finding a device he describes as "a grey box, small enough to be held in the hands, made of... plastic, I believe it was called? [...] On top of that, this one has several differently-shaped buttons and switches on it." He's worried it's an Artifact of Doom because his Name Dar says it can "control just about anything. For example, manipulating people, making them fight, starting wars and, depending on the circumstances, even destroying the world." After spending most of the chapter trying to keep it from falling into the wrong hands, it gets stolen by Yukari, the last person he wanted to have it. She explains that the device is harmless — it's a Game Boy.
- In The Amos 'n Andy Show episode "Kingfish's Last Friend", Kingfish is suffering a great deal of pain and a doctor has been summoned to examine him. The doctor tells him he's suffering from "hypersaturation of the duodenum". The doctor then goes in the next room and tells Kingfish's wife Sapphire the same thing. She breaks down crying, until the doctor tells her that that's just the medical name for overeating.
- A variant occurs in Babylon 5: Garibaldi says nothing, but mind-reader Bester replies with "Anatomically impossible, Mr. Garibaldi, but you're welcome to try."
- Better Off Ted: Veronica is late for a meeting because she was working on the "dough-based projectile ventilation targeting system". Translation: she was competing against Linda to see who could throw more bagels into the air vent.
- This quote from Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory: "I'm polymerized tree sap and you're an organic adhesive, so whatever verbal projectile you launch in my direction is reflected off of me, returns to its original trajectory and adheres to you." For those getting a headache from that, it's the old "I'm rubber and you're glue" retort.
- That quote?? The whole show is this trope, Sheldon in particular. What's interesting is you often get two sets of canned laughter — one after the Expo Speak and another a few seconds later after the Layman's Terms translation. It's anyone's guess how much is due to different parts of the studio audience responding to different terms, and how much is the editors using a laugh track to simulate this effect.
- Another favorite, when he tries to trash-talk his opponent in a robot competition: "I'm given to understand that your mother is overweight. Now of course if that is the result of a glandular condition and not sloth and gluttony, I withdraw the comment. There are boundaries."
- Also, in the episode when Howard accidentally drives the Mars Lander into a ditch, Sheldon remarks, "I believe the appropriate metaphor here involves a river of excrement and a Native American water vessel without any means of propulsion", which was his way of saying "up shit creek without a paddle".
- Leonard explains Sheldon's relationship problems: "What would you be if you were attached to another object by an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis?". The answer is, of course, screwed.
- In the Blackadder II episode "Money", Edmund is trying to sell his house:
Blackadder: Well, what we're talking about in, erm, privy terms is the very latest in front-wall, fresh-air orifices, combined with a wide-capacity gutter installation below.Prospective Buyer: You mean you crap out of the window?
Samuel Johnson: I celebrated last night the encyclopedic implementation of my pre-meditated orchestration of demotic Anglo-Saxon.Prince George: ...Nope, didn't catch any of that.Dr. Samuel Johnson: Well, I simply observed, sir, that I'm felicitous since during the course of the penultimate solar sojourn, I terminated my uninterrupted categorisation of the vocabulary of our post-Norman tongue.Prince George: Well, I don't know what you're talking about, but it sounds damn saucy, you lucky thing! I know some fairly liberal-minded girls, but I've never penultimated any of them in a solar sojourn, or for that matter, been given any Norman tongue.Blackadder: I believe, sir, that the Doctor is trying to tell you that he is happy because he has finished his book. It has apparently taken him ten years.Prince George: Well, I'm a slow reader myself.
- Making this even funnier, this actually convinces the man and his wife to buy Blackadder's house — they're too lazy to bother with a chamberpot or anything like that.
- Taken Up to Eleven when Samuel Johnson turns up.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer seemed to like this. Usually it was done by Giles, but Faith and the Mayor had this exchange:
The Mayor: I don't want you staying in that motel, there are immoral liaisons going on in there!Faith: Yeah, plus all the screwing.
Buffy: Youíre part of some military monster squad that captures - demons, vampires, probably have some official sounding euphemisms for them, - like unfriendlies or Ė non sapiens.Riley: Hostile Sub Terrestrials
- Also done back and forth between Buffy and Riley when they confront each other over their secret identities:
- Quoth Insufferable Genius Frasier from Cheers: "I heard a line in one of those... tribal passages that I thought was the keynote for this evening: 'Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.'"
- In the Scottish sketch show Chewin' the Fat, there's a famous sketch where a surgeon is describing with eloquent Expo Speak what happened to a patient who was shot. Each time, he's called out on it by the nurses who go "Ooooh!" patronisingly and make a certain hand gesture (which has undergone Memetic Mutation in Scotland) to show their disdain for pretentious wank. When his last sentence describes how the bullet ended up in the patient's "tummy", they're a bit disappointed.
- A trope much beloved by Robert Holmes, the writer of more than a few Doctor Who serials, usually to illustrate pompous stupidity. In "Carnival of Monsters", for example, arrogant aristocrat Orum says of the low-ranking Functionaries "Give them a hygiene chamber and they'll store fossil fuel in it." This is an Expospeak Gag on a line from the early 20th century, reflecting conservative class attitudes "If the workers had baths, they'd use them to keep the coal."
Rose: That thing, is it trapped for good on video?
- Inverted in Holmes' "The Deadly Assassin". Rather than describe the Doctor's change of body by the rather more lofty "regeneration", a fellow Time Lord refers to them as "face lifts".
- In "Four to Doomsday", Adric displays both his scientific knowledge and personal immaturity by irritatingly asking for the "sodium chloride", when he really means the salt.
- The same joke was later used in a Doctor Who spoof on Extras, where the Tenth Doctor defeats a ridiculous slug-like creature by throwing "sodium chloride" at it after spouting off lines of obvious expospeak.
- Sent up in "The Girl in the Fireplace", where the Doctor admits that he said "spatio-temporal hyperlink" because he didn't want to say "magic door".
- A non-Robert Holmes story, "The Idiot's Lantern", uses an Expospeak Gag.
The Doctor: Hope so. But just to be on the safe side though, I'll use my unrivaled knowledge of trans-temporal extrapolation methods to neutralise the residual electronic pattern.
Rose: You'll what?
The Doctor: I'm gonna tape over it.
Monk: It took a bit of time, but I finally managed to bypass the dimensional controller.Doctor: Yes, a very interesting solution, yes, I'm sure, though I think it would make for rather an uncomfortable ride.
- "The localised condition of planetary atmospheric condensation caused a malfunction in the visual orientation circuits. Or to put it another way, we got lost in the fog".
- "Miniaturisation ray?" "How do you know that?" "Well, there was a ray and then we were miniaturised..." And this time, the Doctor isn't who said it. That may be a first.
- At the end of "The Time Meddler", the First Doctor breaks the dimensional controller of the TARDIS belonging to rival Time Lord the Monk, making the inside of the Monk's TARDIS the same size as the sarcophagus it uses as its outside — tiny, but perhaps just small enough to squeeze into. When the Monk shows up again hell-bent on revenge, they share this exchange:
- Eureka does this a lot, but one of the funniest examples comes not from the scientists, but from Vincent, the Cafe Diem owner/chef, at Holly's wake:
Vincent: We have all Holly's favorites. Fusilli with gruyère, and peanut purée with blackcurrant preserves on a brioche.Jack: Mac and cheese and PB and J. Holly would have loved it.
- In the episode "Out of Gas", River tries to explain to Simon why she forgot his birthday.
"'Day' is a vestigial mode of time measurement, based on solar cycles. It's not applicable. (long pause) ... I didn't get you anything."
- In "The Train Job":
Drunk: I'm thinkin' yer one o' them independents.Mal: And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling.
- In the episode "Out of Gas", River tries to explain to Simon why she forgot his birthday.
Quinn: Oh my god, you're getting a nose job.Rachel: I'm... considering having a minor procedure to repair my deviated septum.Santana: ... so a nose job.
- Inverted in Hogan's Heroes:
Hogan: Newkirk, please tell Colonel Klink, without getting too technical, why his truck is being repaired.Newkirk: Certainly, sir. It's broken.
- House does it sometimes to confuse patients or family. For example, he explained to the parents of a teenager patient that they will remove the underlying cause of the disease using a very common operation. Yeah, actually she was having an abortion, but House is legally barred from telling them she was sexually active in the first place.
- In Living Color! based a series of skits on this premise. Prisoners with big words can be dangerous.
- Lost: Sawyer is afraid his headaches indicate a brain tumor. Jack informs him he has hyperopia, letting him believe for a moment that this is a dreadful disease, when it really means he's farsighted.
- MacGyver (1985):
- In the episode "Last Stand", Mac is holding some piece of equipment that he's supposedly going to use to fix up a plane so the bad guys can escape. When asked by his guard what the item is, he replies "Lateral... cranial... impact... enhancer", and smacks the guard across the head with it.
- In another two-part episode, Mac puts together an ancient device explaining at length what it does, defining it as an "optic pump". When the Girl of the Week asks what an optic pump is, he says, "a laser".
- Used a couple of times in Monty Python's Flying Circus by Pepperpots (Pythoners dressed up as women). In one sketch with an exploding penguin on top of a TV, one Pepperpot said "Oh, intercourse the penguin!". In another, when one Pepperpot was proven wrong about something, she said "Coitus!" In both cases the Pepperpot was referring to the 4-letter "F word".
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 often had Dr. Forrester use made-up technical names for cruel but simple devices, such as "Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis" for "Padding".
- On an episode of MythBusters where they were going to light one million match heads at once, they brought in a bomb technician. When they asked him what they should do if it goes off early, he says to "De-ass the area with the quickness."
- They would use that phrase again in future episodes.
- NCIS: Gibbs usually does this when somebody—usually McGee, sometimes Abby—uses the big technical words.
- In QI, to avoid setting the klaxon off by saying porn, Jimmy Carr said that 70% of the internet is filled with "gentlemen's special interest literature" (a common euphemism, of course). It didn't work.
- Red Dwarf played this for laughes several times, most notably in "Stasis Leak".
Cat: (to Rimmer) What is it?
Rimmer: It's a rend in the space-time continuum.
Cat: (to Lister) What is it?
Lister: The stasis room freezes time, you know, makes time stand still. So whenever you have a leak, it must preserve whatever it's leaked into, and it's leaked into this room.
Cat: (to Rimmer) What is it?
Rimmer: It's singularity, a point in the universe where the normal laws of space and time don't apply.
Cat: (to Lister) What is it?
Lister: It's a hole back into the past.
Cat: Oh, a magic door! Well, why didn't you say?
- Also Kryten, when he becomes human for an episode, describes his first breakfast as "boiled chicken ovulations".
- Also to Kryten, a pub is a "Meeting place where people attempt to achieve advanced states of mental incompetence through repeated consumption of fermented vegetable drinks"
- In an episode of Roseanne, when Nancy introduces her new girlfriend, the following exchange occurs.
Nancy: This is Sharon. She's an erotic dance performance artist.
Sharon: I'm a stripper.
- Pretty much the entire point behind the Coneheads sketches on Saturday Night Live.
- Stargate SG-1 uses this pretty frequently, most notably whenever an alien talks about guns (because they're unique to Earth; everyone else uses energy weapons). From the episode "Small Victories":
Teal'c: The replicators are impervious to Goa'uld technologies. They are however susceptible to human projectile weaponry.Davis: *visible confusion*Jack: Guns.
Carter: You want a glass of warm milk?Teal'c: I prefer not to ingest bovine lactose at any temperature.
- 'Undomesticated equines could not keep me away.' No matter how many times someone corrects Teal'c on this, he seems to persist in it. Upon hearing him say this, Jack accused Teal'c of trying to make a joke. Teal'c remained silent on the matter, though he did look a bit self-satisfied.
- Then there was the one where Teal'c told Hathor she should attempt procreation with herself.
- And when Teal'c is having trouble meditating;
- Used for an in-joke and Genius Bonus in one episode featuring the Re'tu, aliens who are completely invisible. Carter comes up with a way to make them visible: expose them to electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength between 400 and 700 nanometers. This is a super-sciency way to say "shine a light on them" (EM radiation between 400 and 700 nanometers is otherwise known as "visible light").
- Star Trek: Enterprise: ""In a Mirror, Darkly". Hoshi translates a Tholian's protests as "Something about your maternal ancestor."
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Because he doesn't quite understand metaphors, Data will occasionally lapse into one of these:
Data: I fear I am pursuing an untamed ornithoid without cause.Dr. Crusher: [Beat] A wild goose chase?
- Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Doomsday Machine":
Spock: Random chance seems to have operated in our favor.
McCoy: In plain non-Vulcan English — we've been lucky.
Spock: I believe I said that, Doctor.
- Star Trek: Voyager episode "Fair Haven"
Tuvok: I am experiencing a slight loss of equilibrium and some gastrointestinal distress.
Seven of Nine: Space sickness.
Seven of Nine: I downloaded six months of ship's status reports into my new cortical subunit while I was regenerating.
- Episode "The Voyager Conspiracy"
Tom Paris: Learn while you sleep.
- Characters on The West Wing often use an Expospeak Gag to avoid mentioning politically unpopular things (like taxes).
- A large majority of the dialogue between Hacker and Sir Humphrey in Yes, Minister consists of barely comprehensible expospeak, satirising the impenetrable workings of government. Most famously:
Sir Humphrey: The identity of the official whose alleged responsibility for this hypothetical oversight has been the subject of recent discussion is not shrouded in quite such impenetrable obscurity as certain previous disclosures may have led you to assume. Not to put too fine a point on it, the individual in question is, it may surprise you to learn, one whom your present interlocutor is in the habit of defining by means of the perpendicular pronoun.
Hacker: I beg your pardon?
Sir Humphrey: It was I!
Sir Humphrey: The relationship which I may tentatively venture to be not without a degree of reciprocal utility and even occasional gratification is reaching a point of inevitable bifurcation and, to be brief, is in the propinquity of its ultimate, regrettable termination.
- Also when Humphrey has been promoted and won't be working with Hacker anymore:
Sir Humphrey:I'm on my way out.
- Which Hacker tearfully misinterprets as meaning Humphrey is dying.
- This was a Running Gag during the first season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Billy would say something long and complicated, another character would say "What?" and Trini would put it in simple terms. For example:
Billy: You were right, Kimberly. The performers assembled to create this harmonious tune transcend all predecessors to this genre of music.Kimberly: Translation please?Trini: He likes the music.
- In How I Met Your Mother, when Barney's trying to convince Robin that her relationship with Gael (from Argentina) will fail, they start to implement this.
Lily: Oh, here he comes — switch to big words.Barney: Within a triad of solar periods, you'll recognize your dearth of compatibility with your paramour and conclude your association.Robin: My journey was transformative, and I reassert my commitment to both the aforementioned paramour, and the philosophies he espouses.Gael: What are we talking of? Baseball?Barney: This is all going to return to masticate you in the gluteals. Support my hypothesis, Ted.
- The Australian news program The 7:30 Report periodically does political satire with John Clarke and Brian Dawe. One installment, in which Clarke-playing-John-Howard had returned from a meeting with Meg Lees to be interviewed by Brian, consisted largely of the minutes of the meeting turning out to be expospeak versions of common insults and expressions of exasperation, recording that, for example, Ms Lees named a prominent religious figure.*
- A lot of episodes of Gilligan's Island have the Professor and Gilligan do this.
- An episode of Now and Again has the protagonist's widow (It Makes Sense in Context) try to get a job. As she's working on her resume, her daughter points out that listing part-time jobs like "waitress" doesn't look good. Instead, she uses fancy terms that make the position seem more important. However, when she goes to her first interview, the employer, a wizened middle-aged woman, sees right through the flowery language. She doesn't hire her, but she explains her own life story and how she started her now-successful business.
- On Three's Company, Jack cuts his finger on his first day as head chef at Angelino's. At the E.R.:
Doctor: "You've got a laceration of the middle phalanx."Jack: "Oh, my God! Give it to me straight, Doc. I can take it."Doctor: "Okay. You've got a li'l boo-boo."
- Used in an 1841 issue of Punch as part of a series purporting to give useful instructions on daily life, in this case the lighting of a fire, which begins:
Take a small cylindrical aggregation of parallelopedal sections of the ligneous fibre (vulgarly denominated a bundle of fire-wood), and arrange a fractional part of the integral quantity rectilineally along the interior of the igneous receptacle known as a grate, so as to form an acute angle (of, say 25°) with its base; and one (of, say 65°) with the posterior plane that is perpendicular to it; taking care at the same time to leave between each parallelopedal section an insterstice isometrical with the smaller sides of any one of their six quadrilateral superficies, so as to admit of the free circulation of the atmospheric fluid.
- The Annals of Improbable Research article "How To Write A Scientific Research Report," published along with its "English translation," "How To Write a Clear Research Report." One of the paper's three authors, a "relatively inexperienced researcher (t=0.9167 yr)", is the 11-month-old daughter of the other two authors, and blue, green, yellow, orange and red toy rings are described as "five toroids of different radii having mean reflected photon energies of 2.76, 2.43, 2.18, 1.97, and 1.80 eV."
- Frank Zappa loved this trope, would frequently pronounce such phrases in a distinctive voice where he exaggerated each syllable (The song 'Muffin Man' for instance, is full of it, notably the 'utility muffin research kitchen') In his autobiography, he uses italics any time a phrase that comes up that he would use that voice for in real life.
- The pseudo-medieval band The Lost Boys disguise one of their covers as "Ode to an Unfettr'd Fowl".
- Kids' band Rosenshontz have this at the beginning of a song about teasing: "Branches from the nearby foliage and geological specimens may fracture my skeletal framework. However, inaccurate descriptions of my personality and/or physical features will never damage my psyche." In other words: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
- Granting that controlling such physiological reactions is often beyond the parameters of the conscious mind, I would nevertheless advise that you withhold secretions from the ocular region with regard to an irretrievable quantity of bovine suckling fluid.
- Les Luthiers in ''El sendero de Warren":
Pastor: You had succumbed to gluttony's iniquity.Believer: And I'd eaten too much, too.
- The second track on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) soundtrack is named "Adolescent Genetically Altered Shinobi Terrapins".
- In Dilbert, Wally always does that. For example, transferring hundred of thousands of bytes to an auxiliary support (he copied a file on a floppy disk). He even suggested to assign him the task of testing the internet connection using high-requested servers (he intended to make watching porn his job!).
- Scott Adams actually advises managers lacking inspiration to do so in The Dilbert Principle.
- Calvin and Hobbes had a similar joke, with Calvin using "educated language" for a book report.
Hobbes: "The Dynamics of Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in Dick And Jane: A Study in Transrelational Gender Modes.Calvin: Academia, here I come!
- The 10th Anniversary book had Watterson openly comment on how he hates this type of thing when used seriously.
- Link Hogthrob, in one episode of The Muppet Show's Pigs in Space, charges Miss Piggy with the important duty of utilizing the "independent heating-slash-unifying element" and the "horizontal equalizing plane". This wording is paramount in getting her to agree to ironing the laundry without her realizing it.
- Cabin Pressure gives us "rabbit of negative euphoria" (not a happy bunny) among others.
- In one episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Chairman Jack explains the connection between the words "ugly", "manhole", "lazy" and "stupid", saying that they're all things with politically correct equivalents.
Jack: A manhole is an utility hole, ugly is cosmetically challenged, and so on and so forth.Graeme: That's...differently interesting.
- Adventures in Odyssey-
Issac: But he used his sword to damage the Imagination Station.Eugene: Huh?Whit: He busted it.
- There's extra humor here because normally Eugene is causing this trope with even more complicated language (with such gems as "Greetings and felicitations." ["Hello."] and "Attention! Our quarry is on the approach! I believe it would behoove us to seclude ourselves posthaste!" ["Hey! Here they come! Hide!"]); he's only confused here because normally people don't come out of the Imagination Station.
- The Mass Effect series loves this trope.
- Blasto, the first hanar Spectre, does not have time for your solid waste excretions. He also has forgotten whether his heat sink is over capacity, and wonders if the criminal scum considers itself fortunate.
- Mordin's dossier has a lot of these.
21:41 — Mission Specialist Solus suggests change to plan; when informed that plan will not be changing unless parameters shift, Specialist Solus suggests Commander Kirrahe has foreign object in cloaca. Explanation
21:47 — Scouts neutralized. Rentola treated for minor injuries. After assisting, Specialist Solus asks if failure to land undetected constitutes parameter shift. Commander Kirrahe suggests operation may proceed as planned. Specialist Solus suggests cloacal obstruction is in fact Kirrahe's cranium. Explanation
- In the third game, Tali will, at one point, get utterly smashed by introducing turian brandy into her environment suit via an "Emergency Induction Port" ("That's a straw, Tali" "emeeeergency... induction... port").
- There is a "salvage" item (AKA: enemy loot) from the MMORPG City of Heroes called a "Temporal Analyzer", which is described as a wrist-mounted " chronal device that tracks the current fourth dimensional offset and velocity." If you give it any thought, it's obviously just a watch.
- The infamously difficult Adventure Game adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy features a puzzle where the player has to take a "buffered analgesic" (i.e. an aspirin tablet).
- Freedom Force Vs. The Third Reich
Mentor: There is a saying on Earth: "One engages in a contest with the group of cards granted to him by the dealer."
- Portal makes a Running Gag out of the Expospeak used by Aperture Laboratories to describe the company's inventions. The most obvious example is the "1500 Megawatt Aperture Science Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super-Button", which is, in fact, a pressure plate that resembles an overly large red button. GLaDOS also likes to use Buffy Speak (the "Aperture Science Thing We Don't Know What It Does") and oblique terminology ("victory candescence") to describe the ways she isn't not going to kill you. Portal 2, on the other hand, takes this and runs with it, giving us such gems as:
- Excursion Funnel — a tractor beam
- Aerial Faith Plate — a spring-loaded platform
- Thermal Discouragement Beam — a laser
- Pneumatic Diversity Vent — a human-sized pneumatic tubenote
- Repulsion Gel — turns walls and floors into trampolines
- Propulsion Gel — turns floors into a run-faster area
- The Edgeless Safety Cube — a ball
- Turret Redemption Line — a conveyor belt laden with broken turrets heading into an incinerator
- Check out the blink-and-you'll-miss-it diagrams and labels in some of the trailers.
- The Turret trailer (0:20): The turret's outer shell "opens and retracts in relation to proximity of incident in need of resolution". In other words, if the turret sees you (the "incident in need of resolution"), it'll open its magazines and shoot you. Also, "Warning: Standing near turret may result in accidental empathy suppression". In other words, if the turret sees you, it'll open its magazines and shoot you.
- The Long Fall Boots trailer: 0:17 — "Test Subject Vitality Trial: Vertical Deceleration Chamber": It's a test to see if you'll survive ("test subject vitality") making impact with the floor after falling from a great height ("vertical deceleration"). 0:35 — In the long fall boots, the "Velocity Challenge Brace" is the spring that lessens the impact of landing on your feet.
- The Bot Trust trailer (0:19) — "Unilateral Force-Induced Isokinetic Breakfast Trial". It's a robot using one arm ("unilateral") to flip pancakes ó or, as the case may be, to hit himself repeatedly with a frying pan ("isokinetic": "of or relating to muscular action with a constant rate of movement").
- In-game, Wheatley attempting to "manually override" a wall. In other words, whacking it until it collapses.
- In Final Fantasy XII, when Balthier, Fran, and Vaan get their equipment back in the Nalbina Dungeons, combining it with Added Alliterative Appeal:
Balthier: Ah! The prison repository of wrested relics and raiments.
Vaan: So our stuff is in here?
Balthier: That's what I said.
- Presea from Tales of Symphonia does this occasionally.
- Anything pertaining to gnomes in World of Warcraft
- "I enjoy large posteriors and I can't prevaricate!"
- In Fallout: New Vegas, after being sold into slavery by the player character:
Arcade Gannon: In the words of Socrates, "Go fornicate yourself."
DEATH IS A PREFERABLE ALTERNATIVE TO COMMUNISM.
- From Fallout3: Liberty Prime's take on "Better dead than red":
- Star Craft II Wings Of Liberty features a one-off Protoss character named Karass. One of his Stop Poking Me! quotes is this little gem...
- In Star Wars: Republic Commando when you tell one of your squad mates to plant a demolition charge you say "Initiate radical restructuring commando!"
- This xkcd comic, current the page image for this trope.
- Com'c: In the form of a 16-line sentence.Translation
- Girl Genius got "Stay back! He's Fructivorous!" "Fructivorous," of course, means "an animal that eats fruit" but the latter doesn't sound nearly as alarming.
- Vaarsuvius of The Order of the Stick tends to do this as part of his/her general Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
- Roy returned the favor once; it's how V came to respect him enough to work for him.
Roy: Or maybe I'm hiring you because I require the creation of a managed spherical energy release with a thermal signature no less than 1850° Kelvin, which can be manifested at specific X, Y and Z coordinates from verbal cues.
I require this precise temperature since it is the minimum level at which necrotized epidermis has been proven to combust...
And I have reasons to believe that my mission will require the incapacitation of multiple post-organic hostiles.
Vaarsuvius: So... you need Fireball spells to toast the undead you expect to fight?
Roy: Did I stutter?
- Roy returned the favor once; it's how V came to respect him enough to work for him.
- Irregular Podcast! annotations explain Australian Slang:
crack on to — an attempt, usually by a male, to engage another person, usually a female, in conversation as a prelude to initiating manoeuvres aimed at the eventual amorous interaction of said second person by said first person.
Vanderbeam: It's obvious, Mr. Quine, that our traditional methods of communication are ineffective. What we have here is a nonfeasance to linguically convey.
- MS Paint Adventures is chock full of exotic terms for usually mundane things.
CG: THAT'S BECAUSE YOU JUST TOOK A HARD DRAG OF MY LOAD GAPER WHICH FOR SOME REASON I HAVE DISCOVERED OUTSIDE ON THIS LITTLE ISLAND.GC: YOU M34N YOUR TO1L3T?CG: WELL OOH LA LA.CG: EXCUSE MY DISDAIN FOR YOUR BLUE BLOODED VERNACULAR.
- And in Homestuck, the trolls are particularily loquacious about it. In fact, using these for everyday objects is what differs low-caste speech from high-caste speech.
- Perhaps the most beloved example: Kanaya refers to exclamation marks and question marks as "shout poles" and "surprise noodles" respectively. Karkat later calls quotation marks "enclosure talons".
- In El Goonish Shive, the self-writing spell-books are very, very verbose, so whenever we get a quote from one, it's going to turn out to be this. So far, Elliot has been seen completely baffled by what his book could possibly mean when it says his transformations naturally posess "exorbitant breadth" in the chest area.
- In Bob and George, Doctor Light has said things such as "Fornicating Feces" when annoyed.
- Wondermark strip #826; In which Power is fleeting, with extra Serious Business on top.
- In Commander Kitty, Mittens requests funds for commuter clearance transaction.
CK: "...What?"MOUSE: "Fatso needs a space quarter for the space toll."
- In LARP Trek, O'Brien threatens to have his character go on strike unless Geordi (the GM) gives him something to do. Data comments that this could "fracture the quaternary membrane".
- An example from Schlock Mercenary, in which Kevyn actually is trying to convey important information — but he's been talking to scientists all day and needs to recalibrate for his military watchdog:
Kevyn: "The stabilizer control systems for the stellar-core toroidal singularity that drives the gate-copy system were damaged in the initial assault. Between eighty and ninety hours from now that singularity is going to release about a nonillion kilograms of mass, most of which will likely be expressed as energy.Captain Megido: "Not worth the call. What else have you got?"Kevyn: [annoyed] "Well, we expect a pretty impressive supernova in about four days."
- Done by Kevyn again in a much earlier strip.
- In this strip of Exterminatus Now, the heroes have been ordered to infiltrate a secret base that has been overrun by demons and shut off the device powering the portal which is letting them enter the mortal world. Eastwood asks why they don't just order Exterminatus since the facility is deep in isolated wilderness. The scientific expert gives a long winded explanation that takes up three panels and when he gets only blank stares he sums it up as:
Professor: "Shiny void rift plus big space gun make world go 'splodey."
- In The Bird Feeder #17, "Dinner," when Darryl asks what they'll be eating, Edna replies with the scientific names of the insects on the menu.
- In Skin Horse, Chris has gone from working in the Department of Irradiation to working in a sandwich shop. He offers two options: "radiant energy, via resistive heat, with which we hope to evoke the Maillard reaction" ( toasting) or "EM emissions, to rotate the polar molecules and induce dielectric heat" ( microwaving).
- Played for Drama in Poppy Opossum, and justified, given that Kit has a lot of experience with chemistry and is also intending to distract Poppy.
Kit: ...Poppy, do you know what you get when you expose hydric acid to an open flame?Poppy: Uh. No.Kit throws the candle providing illumination into the bath.Kit: Darkness.
- In the lonelygirl15 episode "Mission Alpha", Spencer explains why he has never exercised before: "I actually can't because I have a condition called nociception, which can be exacerbated by a build-up of lactic acid." Nociception is the ability to feel pain, while lactic acid is generated in normal exercise and simply causes mild discomfort.
- The Youtube Poop trend sometimes called the "Verbose Meme" is heavily based on this. Essentially, a popular video clip is "translated" into Expospeak, Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and dashed with Antiquated Linguistics and passed off as the "posh," "upper-class" or "old-time" version. Needless to say, it often takes ludicrous levels. One notable example:
"Oh, being of humanity which encircles the earth which had derived from multiple stages of assumed evolution, over time encompassing all prior creatures before their existence, developing new sorts of technology in order to continue its quest for domination amongst other species unsuited for the means of this intended sentence!"
- Translation: Oh, man!
- The Bastard Operator from Hell sometimes uses this one or another way. For example, "Total Component Fatigue".
- The headline for this article on The Escapist: "Kick-Ass Movie Trailer Delivers Force to Hindquarters Via Foot".
- In Suburban Knights:
Cloak #1: Unleash the fire of a thousand arrows!
Cloak #3: You mean the machine-gun?
Cloak#1: (beat) Yes.
- The classic website Strawberry Pop-Tart Blowtorches chronicles, in lovingly-rendered scientific format, an "experiment" by which a team of "researchers" tested the flammability of a Pop-Tart (by taping down the lever of a toaster and letting 'er rip).
At this point, the researchers also realized that the heat could inadvertently melt the adhesive cellophane and cause the flaming SPTs to suddenly eject from the toaster. Unfortunately, this did not occur.
- This Cracked article uses it to make a serious point.
You go to the doctor and he tells you that you have a bacterial infection that will never, ever go away. It will literally eat away a crucial part of your digestive system unless you do a chemical treatment twice a day, every day, and do painful semiannual follow-up treatments with your doctor ... for the rest of your fucking life. Sure, it's not a death sentence, but the sheer weight of it kind of makes you want to give up — you can just see this burden stretching out in front of you, forever.But, of course, I've just described brushing your teeth.
- The blog Pop Sonnets is devoted to recreating modern songs in archaic form. A good example is its version of Beyonce's "Single Ladies."
...For three long years, I left myself to pine
For matrimony's gifts to grace my heart-
If truly you did wish to win my hand,
You should have graced it with a weeding band.
- Many of the SCP Foundationís joke articles run on this trope, since the entire point of the wiki is to make up supernatural anomalies and attempt to describe them in a clinical sense. To avoid Don't Explain the Joke (the trope of which coincidentally has its own article on the SCP wiki), the examples here will be blotted out save for their links:
- SCP-089 uses this in a serious manner. You have to read through paragraphs of dry scientific jargon before you get to the part about how containment requires a mother to willingly burn her young child on an altar.
- SCP-328, a human-manufactured laptop computer described by aliens
- SCP-2700-EX, breast cancer, albeit slightly exaggerated in order to be classified as anomalous. Played for Drama.
- SCP-001-EX-J, which is breaking the rule a bit since it was supposedly written by cavemen. Itís fire.
- SCP-042-J, the optical illusion when you close one eye and what you see moves slightly to the left or right. The phenomenon is blamed on pillows. It Makes Sense in Context.
- SCP-078-J. Namely, cooties.
- SCP-123-J, I Canít Believe It's Not Butter!-brand butter substitute.
- SCP-666½-J, A particularly spicy crab-stuffed mushroom entrée.
- SCP-727-J, the sun.
- SCP-1960-J, the moon. (No relation.)
- SCP-800-J, any sport that is not American football.
- SCP-885-J, titled Researcher Jacobs' Inability To Clean Up After Himself.
- SCP-1040-J, terrible everyday driving habits that lead to accidents.
- SCP-1344-J, the Kool-Aid man.
- SCP-1938-J, a Foundation resercher that always clicks spam emails.
- SCP-2008-J, a sports mascot.
- SCP-2412-J, Santa Claus, his sack of presents, and all nine of his reindeer, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
- SCP-3467-J, a six-foot-tall janitor that likes chicken served in a bucket. Thus, it is referred to as a Man-Eating-Chicken.
- SCP-4055-J, opossoms.
- SCP-5200-J, mild rebellious behavior within kids.
- SCP-5280-J, non-metric measuring systems.
- SCP-DEALS-J, an ad campaign for a used car dealership.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series has a running gag of Spock doing this, and exchanges of this sort following:
- The Simpsons uses this in "Homer's Triple Bypass":
Hibbert: Homer, I'm afraid you'll have to undergo a coronary bypass operation.
Homer: Say it in English, Doc.
Hibbert: You're going to need open heart surgery.
Homer: Spare me your medical mumbo-jumbo.
Hibbert: We're going to cut you open and tinker with your ticker.
Homer: Could you dumb it down a shade?
- Then, we get the reverse:
Homer: And so the tiny aorta fairies will take Mr. Leg Vein on a long trip to marry to Ms. Left Ventricle.
Lisa: Dad, are you trying to tell us you're getting a coronary bypass graft?
- In "Old Money", Grampa doesn't realize he does it (he means it figuratively but the literal interpretation is also true):
Grandpa: "The Doctor says she died of a burst left ventricle, but I know she died of a broken heart!"
- Then, we get the reverse:
- When an attack by Boris and Natasha lands Rocky the Flying Squirrel in the hospital, the doctor diagnoses him with a contusion of the cranium. Bullwinkle launches into an anguished revenge campaign upon hearing the severity of the diagnosis, not realizing that in layman's terms, Rocky has a bump on the head.
- Dr. Orpheus from The Venture Bros. often talks this way, as when he makes reference to his daughter attending an "electronic music recital" (she went to a rave).
- Happens on occasion with Edd from Ed, Edd n Eddy. A quote from the Christmas Special:
Edd: Ed! Eddy's pillaged Saint Nick's satchel of individual Yuletide bestowals! (gets a blank stare) The presents, Ed. Eddy's taken the presents!
- Although not the smartest of characters, Bloo pulls it off in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Adoptcalypse Now":
Bloo: Then it's time for drastic action, and I've got just the plan. Operation Abe Lincoln Drop Purple Scaredy Cat Run and Scramble. From the arboreal vantage point, we shall unleash the ultimate weapon, creating a devastating chain reaction the likes of which the galaxy has never known!
Bloo: I drop this fake spider on Eduardo, he freaks out, and everyone runs away.
- In one episode of The Tick, Neil, a scientist, has managed to grow some dinosaur tissue in a lab, retarding its growth by keeping it in an acetylsalicylic acid solution. He accidentally eats the dinosaur tissue, and ends up turning into "Dinosaur Neil", a giant monster. Upon learning about the acetylsalicylic acid, Arthur figures out how to save the day and turn Dinosaur Neal back to normal: as he tells the audience, acetylsalicylic acid is aspirin.
- Used occasionally by Frylock in Aqua Teen Hunger Force when describing his latest invention or plan:
Shake: What is that, for vegetables?
Frylock: It translates brain synapses and neural skull vibrations into audio speech frequencies.
Shake: Yeah, I got one of them too. It's called a mouth.
- Used in Futurama's "Anthology of Interest I":
Fry: Where am I, anyway?
Nichelle Nichols: You're travelling in a specially equipped terrestrial transport module.
Gary Gygax: A school bus!
- Spongebob Squarepants had an episode where Spongebob (literally of course) shattered his rear end. After everything was fixed, we had the following conversation.
Doctor: Well Mr. Squarepants, it looks like your gluteus maximus has made a full recovery
Spongebob: My what has a what now?
Doctor: Your butt's all better.
- The Krusty Krab Training Video features Mr. Krabs showing off a bunch of common fast-food implements but giving them fancy names to make them sound more high-tech:
- A spatula is an "advanced patty-control mechanism."
- The cash register is their "automated money-handling system."
- Ice cubes are "high-quality beverage temperature devices. Imported."
- A straw is a "prototype liquid transfer machine."
- Ketchup packets are "state-of-the-art condiment-dispersal units."
- The Krusty Krab Training Video features Mr. Krabs showing off a bunch of common fast-food implements but giving them fancy names to make them sound more high-tech:
- Kowalski from The Penguins of Madagascar does this constantly, usually followed by Skipper saying "In English Please?"
What's a Koala?An herbivorous nocturnal marsupialIn English please?Uh... They only eat plants, they sleep during the day, and the ladies carry their babies in a pouch.Oh. A Hippy.
- Not surprising in the least, as Jess Winfield is one of the uncredited writers. They're called "rennie jokes".
- Scooby-Doo: Velma's description of a fog bank in 'Hassle in the Castle'.
Velma: I'd love to probe the intricacies of this feat of legerdemain.Dyke:What did she say?!?Fred: She said she volunteers.Dyke: Is that what she said?
- Being the token genius of the group, Velma does this pretty regularly. Another gem would be Dick Van Dyke asking for volunteers for his magic show:
- In Justice League:
Green Lantern: To halt the process we would need to create an Einstein-Rosen Bridge to drain off the affecting anti-fusion matter.Flash: Create a what? Do what?Hawkgirl: Create a wormhole to suck away the bad stuff.
- Combined with Getting Crap Past the Radar in The Amazing World of Gumball:
"That guy is such a gluteus maximus."
- In Pinky and the Brain, when Brain becomes a ski instructor:
Brain: Today, I will instruct you in the mastery of inertia re-establishment utilizing weight distribution through metatarsal manipulation.Student: You mean stopping?Brain: Yes. But when I say it, it sounds groovy.
- Danger Mouse and Penfold are in a tea crate trying to solve the mystery of the world's tea being stolen and the crate they're in is jettisoned into space:
Penfold: Wish we could see something...D.M.: Fortunately, Penfold, there's a missing sectionalized ingrown migniforous basel lateral extension.Penfold: 'Cor, chief, they'd never be able to fit one of those in here!D.M.: No, it's a knothole, Penfold.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle has an anemometer, which is for measuring how fast pegasi fly and how strong their wings are. Or as she puts it, "it measures your accelerative velocity and translates it into wing-power, thus gauging your cumulative H2O anti-gravitational potential".
- On Steven Universe, Peridot tends to do this.
- In Episode 5 of Ben 10, Tetrax tells Ben that he can't leave Earth without his hoverboard. At the end of the episode, he lets Ben keep the hoverboard.
Ben: I thought you said you couldn't get off the planet without it?Tetrax: Selective misinformation.Ben: Huh?Gwen: He lied.
- Any list of US Armed Forces slang will include the terms "cranial loopback" and "rectal-cranial inversion". If you can't figure it out, both refer to having your head up your ass.
- In Give War A Chance, P.J. O'Rouke writes that out of everyone in Saudi Arabia preparing for Operation Desert Storm "when it comes to truly not speaking English, it's impossible to top the [US] Department of Defense" which calls a metal nut (which goes on a bolt) a "hexaform rotatable surface compression unit."
- See also Percussive Maintenance.
- One from a list of humorous discrepancy maintenance reports has the corrective action as "Removed and replaced flight stick actuator." The flight stick actuator is the pilot.
- Official Military terminology is full of these. A shovel is an "entrenching tool", a hat or cap is a "cover", food or a place to eat is "mess", and a firearm small enough to carry is a "weapon", not a gun.
- A toothpick is an "interdental stimulator".
- When helicopter pilot Michael Durant was shot down and captured over Mogadishu, he managed to frustrate his captor's attempts to interrogate him by doing exactly what this trope describes.
- There is a site on the internet dedicated to the dangers of the highly addictive compound Dihydrogen Monoxide.
- For those do not have basic understanding of chemistry or are simply too thick to get it, dihydrogen monoxide is a chemical nomenclature of the chemical H₂O used by those who do have such understanding to illustrate the ignorance of the attentive populace, and analyse how the usage of language can generate misplaced and irrational fears, for the purpose of amusement. In other words, it's basically another way of saying water, which most people outside science don't hear everyday and is only parody science.
- This even inspired, for a while, another website claiming to defend against the first's libelous claims, created by an organization calling themselves the "Hydrogen Hydroxide Anti-Defamation League", Hydrogen Hydroxide being another excessively technical name for water, following the acid-base naming conventions.
- Wikipedia lists the official name for water as "water." But also lists dihydrogen monoxide, oxidane, hydrogen hydroxide, and hydroxylic acid.
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit! used this same trick to convince attendees at an environmentalist rally to sign a petition to ban it to illustrate that as long as they mention something in scientific terminology, environmentalists will automatically assume it's bad and sign petitions to ban it. However, it didn't work for everyone at the rally, but the majority of the people they showed were happily signing the petition.
- The Man Show used the same trick to try and put an end to women's suffrage. As in, the ability for women to vote.
- The Plain English Campaign has several examples.
- The medically alarming term "idiopathic" just means "We have no idea what caused this." As House puts it:
"Idiopathic, from the Latin idiot meaning we're idiots because this kid's lungs are turning into Swiss cheese and we don't know why." note
- The term "idiolect" merely refers to the manner of speaking that is unique to an individual.
- Also used when people want to hide the true nature of their activities (criminal or not), such as the story described here.
"Our process is to turn over the data to a team of highly-skilled data insertion analysts who are responsible for importing the data."
"So, you've got people retyping this directly into the database."
- Aerospace engineers sometimes jokingly refer to a hypothetical crash/explosion as an RUD (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly), and Lithobraking, for a spacecraft crashing into a planet. (The term is a joke on aerobraking, in which a spacecraft runs though the atmosphere of a planet to kill its speed* .)
- Read some resumes, you'll see some interesting twists:
- "Director of Vertical Transportation" = Elevator Operator in a luxury hotel
- "Verified incoming deliveries, Maintained Warehouse facility, Distributed materials to auto repair facilities." for: "I worked at an auto parts store as the one who put stuff on the shelves and drove the delivery van".
- "Decision-making position at a produce marketing unit": Finding and removing fruit and vegetables that had gone bad at the supermarket. Career counselors actually encourage this, since it can help people get a job they desperately need.
- Job listings are getting into the act too: "replenishment" is the euphemism for "putting goods on the shelves".
- One rumored modification of the French school sport curriculum included the notion of "constant-trajectory bouncing referential". Also known as a ball. As for the "randomly bouncing referential", it's a rugby ball.note
- In Czech, a common joke (or riddle) is to translate a proverb into scientific-sounding language.
- A popular phrase in Britain (it's used by Fred Colon in the Discworld novel Men at Arms) is "extracting the urine"; a way of saying "taking the piss" without, well, actually saying "taking the piss". Another British example: as an expression of surprise, "seduce my antique footware!" instead of "fuck my old boots!" Similarly, "are you taking the clear golden liquid?/making off with the Michael?", (which may make more sense to non-Britons if you know that "taking the mickey" is a more polite of saying "taking the piss" * ) and "Robert's the avuncular figure in your life!" (or individual variants of it) are fairly common ways of expressing surprise or satisfaction in a deliberately over the top and camp way. Yes, the nights get long and boring in Britain.
- If a computer technician tells you a laptop isn't working because of "deceleration sickness," he thinks you're an idiot for not realizing someone threw it at a wall. Or, perhaps more commonly, dropped it from a significant height.
- Or PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair) and ID-Ten-T (ID10T), "Chair-to-Keyboard Interface Malfunction", "Carbon Based Error", "ESO error" (Equipment Superior to Operator), "wetware problem", "UBNC error" (User's Brain Not Connected) and "Loose nut on keyboard".
- Layer 8 of the OSI-ISO model is also often identified as the problem. And that's when you're lucky to not get into proposed Layer 9 of the OSI Model* .
- A number of professions have stealth insults for annoying clients. Apparently, doctors will sometimes refer to patients as suffering from "fecal encephalopathy", also known as "coporophagic encephalopathy", AKA "crap for brains". Hysterical patients who just need to be quiet and go away are labelled PRATFO (Patient Reassured And Told to Fuck Off.)
- This is how many newspapers described Cheney's infamous "Go fuck yourself" to a Senator Patrick Leahy (a democrat). "Performing an anatomically impossible maneuver", "an illogical sex move", "gave advice on solo/self intercourse", and many others were used in family oriented magazines to describe his quote without actually outright saying it. Many who had never heard about it and were getting their news from the newspaper were genuinely confused.
- The Wikipedia page's for Baby Got Back attempt to summarize the lyrics. It begins with expospeaking "I like big butts and I cannot lie" as "In the opening verse, Sir Mix-a-Lot professes his affinity for large buttocks and his inability to disguise this fact from others" and only gets better from there. (Sadly, the archives of the page have been purged by the moderators)
- Ditto for an old revision of C is for Cookie.
- The '90s rap song "Got Your Money" has an equally hilarious page: "The song is initially dedicated exclusively to the world's population of attractive females, until ODB seems to have pangs of guilt for not including ladies who might be considered 'homely' or 'ugly,'"
- What takes the cake are usually rap songs, since they usually contain quite a bit of vulgarity or general raunch that even rap fans admit is pretty extreme. Take for example, the page for Lil Kim's song "How Many Licks?"
In the initial stanza, Kim rhapsodizes over the large, heterogeneous population of men with whom she has engaged in intercourse, and how they have satisfied her sexually and non-sexually. (To translate: Kim starts the song singing "I've been a lot of places, seen a lot of faces. Aw, hell, I've even f***ed with different races.)
- A man is filling out an insurance application and one of the questions is "How did your father die?". His father had been executed by hanging, so he writes "My father died at age of 64. He was participating in a public function when the platform gave way." A similar joke has the hanged man be a Remittance Man, and the euphemism used in a letter of condolence to the father.
- In some military forces, Individual Body Maintenance is a euphemism for "taking a nap". This is often used to account for the whereabouts of the troops [to a superior officer] without having to admit that they're on an unscheduled afternoon siesta.
- A man once bought a box of expensive cigars and had them insured. He then smoked them and claimed on the insurance, saying that the cigars were destroyed in "a series of small fires". He did indeed collect the insurance money, but he was subsequently charged with arson by the insurance company.
- The online resource, Snopes, would care to present an alternative perspective which outlines the diminutive nature of the truth inherent in that story.note
- Brad Paisley performed a song about this incident
- In Britain's Parliament, an MP cannot say another is 'lying', as this is 'unparliamentary language'. This has led to some very inventive euphemisms, such as "the honourable gentleman is being economical with the truth" or even "I fear the honourable gentleman is perpetrating a matter of terminological inexactitude". And in the Dutch Parliament, the euphemism for lying is "verkeerd informeren" (inform wrongly).
- "Tired and emotional" is a well-known stock phrase in the UK media. Due to UK libel law, it's extremely dangerous to imply that a public figure is/was drunk. "Tired and emotional" is how public figures tend to get after a night involving too much alcohol and not enough sleep.
- The book "Tech Speak, or How To Talk High Tech" (by Edward Tenner) is a humourous application of Expospeak, consisting of an assortment of everyday items described in high-tech terms. The book includes such gems as the Material Sectioning Tool (knife), the Canine Seclusion Habitat (doghouse), the Kinetic Demonstration Device (toy balloon), and the Accreted Crystalline Anthropoid Homologue (snowman); the last of these is described as "a solar-recyclable aqueous transitional-state hominid isomorph assembled as a juvenile peer-bonding mechanism." Sadly, the book is out of print.
- In a column about what to study in college, Dave Barry suggested that sociology consisted of translating simple observations into scientific-sounding code. His example was the observation that children cry when they fall down: "Methodological observation of the sociometrical behavior tendencies of prematurated isolates indicates that a casual relationship exists between groundward tropism and lachrimatory, or 'crying,' behavior forms."
- Wikipedia on the heavy metal usage of the sign of the horns: "...the sign eventually came to signify, variously, that the one gesturing is rocking him or herself, is encouraging the recipient of the gesture to rock, and/or that he/she emphatically appreciates the rocking that has already commenced." Also counts as Sophisticated as Hell.
- This interview with Stephen Fry includes the following description of his drug use:
So for many years really I never went out without at least four or five grams of cocaine powder on my person. And I would ingest it intra-nasally, as was the fashion, through the use of some sort of straw or rolled up currency note.
- The abbreviation "ADR" is a highly scientific veterinary term used in patient charts for decades to describe the owner's complaint, or presenting problem. "ADR" stands for... Ain't Doin' Right.
- Medical slang and humour tends to be rife with this in general. here is a page demonstrating a large number of such slang terms many falling under this trope.
- The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is currently undertaking a number of "vertical transportation improvements" at several of the subway stops — that is, they're repairing/replacing the elevators. Also arguably qualified is the "Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line" at the south end of the Red Line, which is in fact run as streetcar service.
- From a site that sells approximations of Klein bottles: Non-metric topological manifolds may be considered ideal elastic objects, able to be bent, stretched, twisted, or deformed as long as nearby points in one space correspond to nearby points in the transformed version. However, Acme's Borosilicate Klein Bottles are physical instantiations of such mathematical concepts. As such, they should not be subject to transformations which substantially increase the material's internal stress tensors. Specifically, please recognize that dihydrogen monoxide has a coefficent of expansion which is negatively correlated with temperature near its freezing point, and thus expands when changing from liquid to solid. This increase in volume can cause stresses within a containing vessel. Borosilicate glass — such as that which Acme uses to manufacture its fine Klein Bottles — has a finite capacity to absorb these stresses and retain a linear stress-strain relationship. When a certain stress is exceeded, the intermolecular silicate bonds will delaminate, resulting in stress-induced fractures. In other words, "freezing water expands and will shatter your Klein Bottle".
- This trope can be a good way of telling that someone has reached their maximum capacity for fecal matter, especially if they're upset. Since people who are upset generally use shorter words and simpler explanations—often with a lot of swearing in the middle—someone who is upset yet still using a complex explanation is likely either a.) going out of their way to do it, or b.) doesn't really understand what they're describing and therefore can't put it in Layman's Terms. It can be quite amusing to watch someone switch from Cluster F-Bombing to a technical explanation and right back again. Also, if a discussion is using simple terms, and someone uses more complex ways of describing it, then refuses to dumb it down, they're probably also full of it. For example
If it is argued that people were in location X when A happened to them, and when we see them they are in location Y, not X, then that does not mean A never happened, especially since there's additional non-video evidence to show that it did.Argument:
P ∈ X || A ∼ (Y ∉ X) ≠ A ∃ H ą (+ ∃ Nv = ∃)
- Please note that this was the second time the simple explanation had been used, yet the "refuting" somehow got even more complex. An explanation here.
- Government abounds with this kind of language, as politicians and bureaucrats try to find euphemisms for things the public doesn't like.
- During his term as president, George H. W. Bush promised "no new taxes." Sometime afterwards, he imposed "revenue enhancements." His defenders claimed that taxes and revenue enhancements were not alike.
- "I'm sending troops to fight in a foreign war" tends not to poll well, so politicians throughout history have invented expospeak terms for war. Examples include "police action" and "kinetic military action".
- Warfare also produces euphemisms like "collateral damage" (killing innocent civilians) and "friendly fire" (killing our own troops).
- Government agents use expospeak terms like "terminate with extreme prejudice" (assassinate) and "enhanced coercive interrogation technique" (torture).
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a clinical, dispassionate euphemism for a condition once viscerally known as "Shell Shock".
- A study examining the effects of simulated suffocation on people with amygdala damage included the note that "the heart rate data for AM and BG during the first CO2 inhalation could not be analyzed because of contamination by motion artifacts secondary to the patients' escape behavior."
- The Nicolas Bourbaki collective was mostly composed of people younger than 50, and with flexible minds. From time to time, in order to prove they qualify for the second part, people had to pass the "coconut test". Basically, it amounted to the member deciphering an Expospeak Gag about mathematics.
- One obfuscated unit of measure that occasionally appears is "becquerels per dioptre", which uses obscure units (becquerel measures atomic decay while dioptre measures lens-focusing length) but cancels out to metres per second.
- Up to a certain age, parents of young children often use this sort of speak to discuss things with each other that they don't want the kids to hear.