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False Factoids, Fact vs. Factoid

The word factoid is often used incorrectly by people when they present short bits of verified, correct, and true information. Ironically the word factoid is defined as a statement that is unverified, incorrect, and fabricated and then presented as fact.

Language does evolve over time and it is now fairly common to hear the word factoid used to describe bits of true and trivial information.

The word may be so misused at this point that returning it to it’s original intended definition may be hopeless. However, a factoid is quite the opposite of a fact.

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a factoid as something invented and believed to be true only because it was printed. This definition stems from the original usage in 1975 when author Norman Mailer coined the word in his book, Marilyn: A biography.


Wikipedia’s factoid article notes that by adding the -oid suffix (meaning similar but not the same as) to the end of the word, Norman created a new word that has a meaning similar to fact, but is not a fact.

It’s this similar to a fact part of the etymology that is now the meaning most people try to get across with the word.

A word from the Author:

When I originally started collecting information to build Brain Skewer, I was planning on naming the site with the word factoid in the title.

While researching potential name options I discovered that factoid is actually the opposite of a well researched fact.

My goal for this site is to publish well-researched articles about a variety of subjects and the factoid title didn’t fit with that theme so I scrapped the original name ideas.

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