A List

I was cleaning my room when I found this list in a pile of papers:

It’s my handwriting from the last couple years, and it looks faintly familiar, but for the life of me I have no idea what it means or why I wrote it.

… can anyone help figure this one out?

0 thoughts on “A List

  1. Perhaps you are writing a program that dissects words. You want their roots, their prefixes, suffixes, etc. This is a test list, and gives good examples of situations where algorithms might be led astray ?

    Evenings: even ing s
    Legends: leg end s
    Bunting (the bird): bunt ing

    Also mixed in are words that legitimately separate.

    Fox hounds
    John s
    Litho graph er
    Re supply ing

    Leg is part of legends, and parrot doesn?t fit. A program might also try to make supply into supp ly

    Whatever the explanation, it should explain why you have so many plurals and so many ?ing words. Note that evening is not a verb, but it ends in ?ing, so this might be a clue if you are testing a computer program.


  2. you know, if you change every letter to a number from 1-26, add up all the numbers in each word together, then continue adding each number in the sum together until its a single numeral, they all become prime numbers. except for bunting and leg. i dont know what to do with them. or why anyone would do this.


  3. something to do with pirates perhapes, leg…misses one…parrot…ref to parrots..ledgends…reminds me of maps…foxhounds gives a hint of UK….bunting could be football (soccer w/e) so you write storys about british pirates named john bunting parrots with legs (also X marks the spot)


  4. On lovely evenings by the resupplying dock, a group of renegade foxhounds like to watch the lithographers print the legends on their maps. Meanwhile, the bunting birds socialize with the parrots, sitting leg-by-leg ’round a yard of old abandoned johns.

    You were probably thinking that.


  5. SAT vocab??, j/k

    I think that you started to write legend in the second column, but you realized that you had written it in the first one already, so you stopped.

    Also, the alpha and the x at the bottom might be writing ticks. I have mild OCD, and i tend to write the expansion of (a-b)^2 with every new pencil i get. just a thought.


  6. Seems to be a two-column list of some sort. So either one column matches one property and the other doesn’t, or they are two different sets of words (maybe you can follow a wikipedia trail down one of the lists or something)

    I think the “ing” tacked on as an afterthought to resupply is important, so it might have something to do with the letters in the word

    In case it helps, here are the line numbers of these words from /usr/share/dict/words:


  7. In my simple analysis, I just take the letters as they are and convert them to a sum of numbers. In all cases, the numbers turn out composite.

    leg: 24 = 2*2*2*3
    legends: 66 = 2*3*11
    lithographer: 138 = 2*3*3*7
    foxhounds: 135 = 3*3*3*5
    bunting: 87 = 3*29
    evenings: 95 = 5*19
    parrot: 88 = 2*2*2*11
    johns: 66 = 2*3*11
    resupplying: 152 = 2*2*2*19
    x: 24 = 2*2*2*3


  8. It’s probably the answers to one of those “Impossible Quizzes” on the internet that you got part of the way through it before falling asleep or giving up.


  9. Moin

    I think it could be a list of ideas for comic strip, even though I don’t know how to put them in a more or less sensible story.

    Some years ago I made a list myself.
    Mistakes I never wanted to make.
    Now some years later after I found it again I realized that I made every mistake on that list. ๐Ÿ˜€

    By the way is that small symbol a greek alpha ?



  10. I was just writing a list of songs/artists I need to download, but I only wrote one word of each to remind myself…are they obscure band names maybe? Or movies or books?

    Or maybe you didn’t really find this list at all, you just came up with seemingly unrelated words and a couple of scratch marks, wrote them on a paper, and are now watching the chaos with glee. Do you have a psych paper due any time soon?


  11. my theory, you are “long”-ing for something.

    long evenings
    long ears for foxhounds
    long johns
    long john silver (pirate)’s parrot
    legends from long ago
    long times for resupplying
    long buntings hanging off the parade float
    and finally, long legs

    lithographer had me puzzled until i realized that creating a lithograph would take a lot longer than drawing and posting your excellent cartoon on xkcd…

    but what were you longing for when you made the list?


  12. Meh, you know you could have been playing word association with yourself… Some strange, strange version of word association.


  13. has no one noticed although smuged it looks as though the J is capitlised this could indicate that i was a name. or that he was writing vary fast a sloppy.

    the x’s could have been lives mabey, something like that.

    and although it is hard to tell from the scans the paper is coverd in dents/holes.

    and another thing…

    *incoming truck*




  14. Abbreviated font names?
    I often end up with funny lists like then when trying to decide on a font for a project.. scrolling through writing down just enough to find it again if it makes the cut. . .


  15. i got nothing… sum of letter position gives us:
    evenings: 95
    foxhounds: 126
    johns: 66
    parrot: 88
    lithographer: 137
    legends: 66
    resupplying: 162
    bunting: 87
    leg: 24

    sum of ascii value gives us:
    evenings: 863
    foxhounds: 990
    johns: 546
    parrot: 664
    lithographer: 1289
    legends: 738
    resupplying: 1218
    bunting: 759
    leg: 312

    yeah, nothing. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  16. I found evidence for the the leg-legends comparison. If you look at the rest of the words, whenever a lowercase g ends a word, it curves left to get to the starting point of the next line (for the next word). Meanwhile, lowercase g in the middle of a word curves up at the tail to point towards the starting point for the next letter. The g in “leg” curves up to indicate it was going to have another letter after that.

    Though it might not have been “legends.” What else starts with leg?


  17. Realization: Anything applying to numerical values of numbers makes little sense, because what are the odds of it working backwards? Mr. Munroe would likely remember something about thinking up numerical values being configured to these words.



  18. Oh, I found some more and thought I would share:



    and, if you’ll accept names,



  19. Maybe you were compiling a list of words that are common in writing but not in spoken language?


  20. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that they’re all words that appear to be good “captcha”


  21. He just wrote a bunch of words for you guys to try and figure out something to :/ i call it a sham!

    Well, not actually serious, but that would be excellent ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


  22. I’m not sure that the fact that ‘parrot’ is an anagram of ‘raptor’ is a coincidence. :/


  23. Do you have a history of playing pranks on yourself? I knew a guy who used to program his automatic message system to call him in the middle of the night. As the months went by, he would forget all about it and then one night the phone would ring. When he picked up, he got a recording of his own voice saying “April Fools, sucker,” or something like that. You wouldn’t do anything like that, would you?

    Could it have to do with the new XKCD movie I’ve been hearing so much about?


  24. Could this have somethign to do with the Dangers Comic. “Died in a _____ Accident.” Those are perhaps hilarious possibilities.


  25. Well I was going to say that it’s clearly an elaborate ploy, in which you wrote a random list of words and just wanted to see how we’d connect them…but someone already said that. Oh well.


  26. There went an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back.

    I say you were at work or school, daydreaming about sex, and you made a checklist in code.

    Evenings = tonight’s the night
    Foxhounds = she’s a fox. you’re hunting her. nuff said.
    Johns = last time she told you she won’t sleep with you unless you clean your bathroom first
    Parrot = repeat to her that you love her when she says ‘I love you’
    Lithographer = post a copy of the (hidden) video on youporn.com after she leaves
    Legends = what you know you’ll be once that video is up and you send the link to all your friends

    Second column… things to take care of before she comes over
    Resupplying = condoms, lube
    Bunting = you’ll need something to tie her up with
    Leg = wash your feet well; she likes to suck on your toes

    xx = a fairly obvious code for XXX

    See… nobody would ever guess your secret code. Well done. So what I want to know is did you get the bathroom cleaned in time and did she suck on your toes or not?


  27. Has anyone tried to translate these words into other languages and see what we can do with them from there?


  28. Maybe it was sort of a brainstorm paper of nonsense words, when you were trying to come up with a name for your website?


  29. okay.. so I tried to find a solution assuming Anglave had found the solution..

    his suggested words all seem to be words made up of two or more smaller words that aren’t obviously related to the original..

    male-ability, men-is-cus, male-diction, false-hoods, Can-dice, beg-innings

    now if you test this theory on the proper words..

    fox-hounds, lit-hog-rap-her, leg-ends, res-up-plying, bun-ting, par-rot..

    it’s good for most of them but I can’t think of any for “evenings” or “johns”, maybe the challenge was to think of some word that includes them but Mr Munroe wasn’t able to.. can anyone else? I can’t! Perhaps he added an “s” because the goal is to make the word as long as possible or something..

    as for “leg” I think this is where he stopped playing the game.. I can think of ideas though..

    leg-it for example..

    anyone else got comments on my theory? ^_^


  30. just an afterthought.. the two “x”s could correspond tor the two words he was unable to split up/construct? (john, evening) that’s of course highly speculative


  31. I’m going to be worrying over this for days. I’ll get no restful sleep. I’ll have even weirder dreams than I did last night, when my plans to… I don’t remember… were thwarted by the emergence of a large number of time-travel dittoes of my grandfather, who became inexplicably angry and violent every time I saw another of his future selves (who were, notably, passive and apologetic).

    Why am I ranting about my dreams? The world may never know.

    Were you sleepy when you were doing your word comparisons?


  32. @ Alex

    If leg is where he stopped, why didnt’ he write legs instead. Legs is longer and still doesn’t contains at least two other words.


  33. I know! It’s a list of completely unconnected words with absolutely no significance.

    Am I close?


  34. Perhaps you dipped a worm in an ink pot, fed it stimulants, then set it down on some paper to see the results which, by some fluke, happened to be able to be sensibly interpreted as words.

    The universe is full of little coincidences like that. For instance, many people seem to be able to make out pictures of the Virgin Mary on pieces of toast, outlines of various creatures in the night sky, and little “Made in China” marks on subatomic particles.


  35. 1. You were playing a game where you are given a certain number of guesses to get the correct word. The X’s mark how many times your friends missed the words, and this is a list of words for the game.

    2. You were drunk.

    3. Scrabble.

    4. You wrote it to make a much needed blog post.

    Any or all of the above may apply.