Have you ever been traveling and stuck for a few hours in an airport waiting for a connecting flight? Perhaps you’ve been at your hotel on your own for an hour or so while your holiday mates lie in? Maybe you’re bored at work, or at home?
Well in all these places there is bound to be some form of Internet access available. Every airport I’ve been to recently seems to have a little corner somewhere where you can log on to check email and things. A good proportion of people in the waiting lounge seem to be online on laptops, checking email and browsing the web. Well if you’re one of these and have some time to kill then I’ve found the ultimate pastime. Googlewhacking!
It is a craze that started several years ago and was made popular by Dave Gorman as he took a show round the world telling the story of his crazy Googlewhack adventure. For the uninitiated I should probably explain what a Googlewhack is.
A Googlewhack is when you put in two words in to Google and get back only one result. There are, of course, a number of rules as to which words you can use for a Googlewhack, otherwise you could just make it up! The words must appear in Google’s view of legitimate words, an easy way to tell is if they’re underlined on the top right after your search. You must see “Results 1 – 1” for the result to count. You may not use speech marks either, but + symbols are allowed. Also, you must view the page you’ve found. If it is a list of words then your result does not count.
So having had a look at Googlewhacking I thought I’d give it a try, after all it couldn’t be that hard could it?
I started out by picking random words from dictionary.com’s word of the day section. My first phrase, eleemosynary slugabed returned 351 results. Not bad I thought, and I carried on. The next few weren’t so good, eleemosynary numismatics with 1800 results, eleemosynary antediluvian returned 2200 and Whig antediluvian gave 6890. These are all real words, by the way.
I was getting a little disheartened, 351 results was by best, hardly something to boast about. All this, however, was about to change. Tchotchke conurbation – 57 results. This was more like it! I’d found a word that seemed so bizarre I was quite sure it would only turn up on word lists or on my ever elusive Googlewhack. A tchotchke is an inexpensive souvenir, trinket, or ornament according to the dictionary. This word would seem to be my key to my first Googlewhack.
I ploughed on looking for more words to pair with tchotchke, with varying degrees of success. Valetudinarian tchotchke – 43 results, chotchke oneiric – 64 results, tchotchke ukase – 76 results. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere after my magnificent jump down to 50. To get less results I’d surely have to pull something special out of the bag.
My next search term was just that. Hyperrealistic tchotchke, 15 results. I was nearly there! I’d discovered that two random words was actually worse. You’re best off finding an obscure word and pairing it with an equally strange adjective or verb. I continued in this vein, getting results like; supermassive tchotchke – 20 results, abiological tchotchke with 19 and exobiological tchotchke with 12 results.
The next result was painful. Hyperspeed tchotchke, 2 results. Two! However on closer inspection I noticed that hyperspeed wasn’t in the Google dictionary and wouldn’t have counted. Disheartened, but not perturbed, I continued.
It seems there are a huge amount of word lists out there on the web, making the life of a Googlewhacker all that more difficult. To dodge these I used + signs before my words, ensuring that I’d have to find the words together on one page.
My next result had me out of my chair.
There it was, one result. A Googlewhack surely? Sadly not. The word prebiotics isn’t in the Google list and doesn’t count. I couldn’t believe it, I thought I had it. Still, once you have come so close you can’t give up. I tried many more after this, spectrographic tchotchke, extrasolar tchotchke, extremophile tchotchke all have less than 20 but not that ever elusive one result. I managed one result with astrobiological tchotchke but it turned out to be a word list.
Cruddiness tchotchkes gave three and cruddiness tchotchke gave none. I could sense I was closing in.
And then it happened. Splashguards tchotchke!
I certainly didn’t mean ‘splash guards’ as you can see the word as one is permitted by Google and I have just the one result. If you’re interested the repeat result is actually the same document. This is one document I’ve found here and it certainly isn’t a word list.
Well this Internet adventure certainly used up a little too much time at work and it really is quite addictive. So next time you’re stuck waiting for that connecting flight, why not do a little travelling over the net. It’s amazing where you can end up.
Oh, and hopefully this blog will come up for splashguards tchotchke so you’ll have to find your own Googlewhacks now!