Gene Weingarten: The continuing search for the elusive Googlenope

Gene Weingarten
Columnist June 10, 2011

Sometimes, I feel like a voice in the wilderness, especially whenever I go into the jungle to yodel. But it also happens when my most heartfelt columns fall on deaf ears. That’s been the case with my lonely crusade to celebrate and glorify the endangered Googlenope.

A Googlenope is a phrase that does not produce a single hit when entered between quotes into the Google search engine. When I invented the term four years ago, Googlenopes were easy to come by; now, with the exponential growth of the Web, it’s much harder to
find anything left unsaid. For example, my very first Googlenope, “Queen Elizabeth’s buttocks,” now delivers more than 1,000 hits.

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

Alas, that is the ironic, evanescent fragility of the form: Once it is published and archived, a Googlenope ceases to exist. Ergo, as the Googlenope’s most prominent connoisseur and curator, I am also, tragically, the one person most responsible for hastening its extinction. I am to the Googlenope what the collector is to the butterfly.

And now comes another threat. For better or for worse, academia is about to discover the noble Googlenope. An English professor at the College of Southern Maryland, Erich Hintze, informs me he is preparing a paper about the Googlenope that he will deliver in October in New Orleans to a conference on American popular culture. Hintze has devoted hundreds of hours to exploring the Googlenope and its opposite, the Googleyup, which is any phrase — however odd — that returns at least one hit. Hintze has taken my work and expanded it into an intriguing form of sociology I call Advanced Comparative Googleyuppery. He has discovered, for example, that “my son is a genius” returns 1.2 million hits, whereas “my stepson is a genius” — though not quite a Googlenope — produces only four.

Like me, Hintze is a fearless cultural pioneer. I wish him only the best. And hereby soldier on in this oddly revealing, tragically diminishing, field.


(Eric Shansby)

Googleyup: “cure cancer with eggplant”

Googleyup: “cure cancer with a 42-day fast of natural juices and herbal teas”

Googleyup: “cure cancer with camel urine”

Googlenope: “cure cancer with medical therapy”

***

Googleyup: “my pimp respects me”

Googlenope: “my gynecologist respects me”

***

Googleyup: “In my past life I was a lobster”

Googleyup: “In my past life I was a matador from Barcelona, Spain, in the 1700s”

Googleyup: “In my past life I was a taco”

Googlenope: “In my past life I was an ordinary person”

***

Googleyup: “I want to eat my own foot”

Googleyup: “I want to eat a bicycle made of candy canes”

Googleyup: “I want to eat lard with sprinkles”

Googleyup: “I want to eat a bar of soap”

Googlenope: “I want to eat British cuisine”

***

Googleyup: “Best. Orthodontist. Ever.”

Googleyup: “Best. Wart. Ever.”

Googleyup: “Best. Cucumber. Ever.”

Googleyup: “Best. Period. Ever.”

Goggleyup: “Best. Toothpaste. Ever.”

Googlenope: “Best. Inappropriately dramatic presentation of a superlative. Ever.”

E-mail Gene at weingarten@washpost.com.

Rachel Manteuffel contributed to this column.  

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