Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Observation

Today’s Vocabulary
Verbal Verbosity:  1. (n) Annoying tendency to say in 500 words when 10 will do.
2. (n) Seizing on one innocuous factoid and turning it into an overly long screed.
3. (n) Penwasser Place

  An observation, if I may?
  Why is the “#” on a telephone keypad called the “pound” key?  Wouldn’t it be more accurate to call it the “number” key, instead?  I can certainly understand why “٭” is called the “star” key, because it kinda looks like a star (even though I think it looks more like an asterisk).  At any rate, it looks a helluva lot more like a star than a “#” looks like a “pound.”
  Isn’t the symbol for “pound” supposed to be “lb?”  Yes, I know, Mr. Smarty-Pants Dead Language Guy, it’s an abbreviation for a Latin phrase, “Lardassius Buttocks.” Or something like that.  
  I could be wrong, though.  But, as we’ve clearly determined in my earlier posts, I’m really too lazy to figure out the exact meanings of things.  Which is pretty darn pitiful in this day and age of “Google,” “Yahoo,” and “Bing” (NOTE:  The search engine, NOT the deceased crooner who starred in numerous “On the Road” flicks with Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope.  Who are also dead.)
  Even so, I’m guessing that sticking an “lb” on a keyboard already cluttered with numbers and letters would be confusing.  You could imagine the mix-ups which might ensue while trying to dial phone sex (as I’ve heard some people do).  You might end up with a “Lardassius Buttocks” breathing heavy in your ear.  And asking, “Are you gonna eat that?”
  Still, it bothers me that it’s called “pound.”  Although, I must admit, it could be confusing calling it what it really is:
  “When you’ve completed your transaction, press the ‘number’ key.”
  “Number key!!??  What the hell are you talking about??  They’re all numbers!!  Which one do I frikkin’ press!!??  Mommy!!” 
  Considering this, I realized that the good folks at AT&T, Bell Atlantic, and Wal-Mart had to call the “#something.
  So, since calling it the “TIC TAC TOE” key would be silly and calling it the “Cartesian Grid” key would be both silly and pretentious, they flipped a coin and went with the “pound” key.
  I’m just happy they didn’t go all metric on us and call it the “kilogram” key.  USA!! USA!!
  What I’m saying is, go right ahead and continue to press that “pound” key with confidence.  All things considered, it’s probably a good thing your phone uses “#” instead of “lb.
  Because, if it did, you might have to worry about dialing up the ghost of Orson Welles for phone sex.

  There now, I got this in under 500 words.  Verbose, indeed. 


  1. The # is the symbol for pound. In the restaurant business the # is used a lot on inventories, etc. I didn't make this up so don't shoot me.

  2. I wonder about irrelevant things too, all the time:)

  3. I think about strange shit all the time.

  4. @Barb: I for real didn't know that. Is it just in the restaurant biz or is it used for pound in general?
    @AC: A lot of my posts come to me just like this one. I dialed a company last night (no, not porn) and was told to press the "pound" key.
    @OT: This explains my post. And the one I wrote about care labels on underwear. And, to be honest, the fact that I rub urea on my heels.

  5. You know Al, I've wondered this very thing, but never thought to write about it. It's why you are sheer genius.
    I do agree with Barb... # is the pound symbol, but did it start because of the phone key pad? Didn't we all learn that # stands for number in school?
    I'd Google the answer, but I have you Al. Who needs Google?

  6. OK Al- here's the Google answer:

    They don't know either.

  7. Very good questions, Al. Next, the computer nerds went further and called it a hashtag. WTH?
    But that's another 499 word post.

  8. They call it the "hash key" here. Never heard it called a pound key. A pound in a recipe is "lb" but I have no idea why.

  9. @PAMO: I think it's a kind of insanity. Some people ask, "Why?" Some others say, "Why not?" I ask, "What the hell is that all about?"
    @Robyn: Hashtag? Sounds like a washing machine for potheads.
    @Mynx: Hash key? Sounds like "hashtag." I think "lb" is short for "Libra" which is the zodiac symbol for a set of scales. Which measures pounds. I think. As is my way, I'm just going on what I remember from school. Although, I much prefer "Lardassius Buttocks."

  10. I love that I can read your blog and expound on my existing vocabulary! I had never heard the term verbal verbosity, until today.

  11. Have you been staring at your telephone keypad too long?

  12. @Leslie: It's what I do.
    @Tony: And sometimes it speaks to me...."order Chinese...order Chinese..."

  13. It was originally designed for single guys and phone sex. Sort of an interactive key.
    Pound, pound,pound, pound oh you get the message

  14. @Bushman: lol
    @Eva: Just hoping there were plenty of aloe wipes around.

  15. I've heard it called the pound key too. That is totally stupid. Pound is lb or that british thing that looks a little like an f.

    What the # is, is "The tic tac toe" key. OK?

  16. Barb says that it's called the "pound" sign in the restaurant biz. She's a straight shooter so I don't doubt her. But, still, I wonder.....
    I actually like Bushman's take on it. In fact, I may just take my cell phone and excuse myself for a few minutes.

  17. The Cartesian Grid?!!! My, that IS pretentious. Especially since you actually know what it is, while I......don't.

  18. I sorta remember that from my days in the Navy. I also kinda remember I wasn't too awfully good at using them.