Spice lists

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Today xkcd:

Mouseover title: "The Earth's five major mass extinctions were the Posh Extinction, the Sporty Extinction, the Scary Extinction, the Ginger Extinction, and the Baby Extinction."

There are many other possibilities, for example

Frontal Spice, Parietal Spice, Occipital Spice, Temporal Spice, Limbic Spice, Insular Spice

Terminal Spice, Olfactory Spice, Optic Spice, Oculomotor Spice, Trochlear Spice, Trigeminal Spice, Abducens Spice, Facial Spice, Vestibulocochlear Spice, Glossopharyngeal Spice, Vagus Spice, Accessory Spice, Hypoglossal Spice

Pragmatic Spice, Semantic Spice, Syntactic Spice, Morphological Spice, Phonological Spice, Phonetic Spice



  1. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 8:13 am

    Kingdom Spice, Phylum Spice, Class Spice, Order Spice, Family Spice, Genus Spice, Species Spice

    Does "Baleen" for "Baby" suggest that Randall Munroe pronounces it with the same vowel as "baby" in the first syllable? Or does beginning with the letters "ba" and having an /i/ sound in the second syllable make it close enough?

  2. mollymooly said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 8:18 am

    Explain xkcd cross-references a similar strip from September 2014 ("I have this problem where all sets of seven things are indistinguishable to me.") that LLog seems not to have noted.

  3. Laura Morland said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 8:19 am

    Factoid: Do you know that the Spice Girls didn't (nick)name themselves? Nor did their management company thus baptise them. Their apparently unforgettable names were generated by their first fans.

    Perhaps why they've endured so long. (The nicknames, not the group.)

  4. BobC said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 9:19 am

    Genesis Spice, Exodus Spice, Leviticus Spice, Numbers Spice, Deuteronomy Spice

  5. Toma said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 9:44 am

    Superior Spice, Huron Spice, Michigan Spice, Erie Spice, Ontario Spice

  6. EricF said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 9:53 am

    Cirrus Spice, Cumulus Spice, Nimbostratus Spice, Cumulonimbus Spice, Stratocumulus Spice. They're all high.

  7. ALB said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 9:54 am

    Oral Spice, Anal Spice, Phallic Spice, Latency Spice, Genital Spice

  8. bks said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 10:03 am

    Is spice the plural of spouse?

  9. DCBob said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 10:14 am

    Eospice, Paleospice, Mesospice, Neospice, Eneospice.
    Alkane Spice, Alkene Spice, Alkyne Spice, Benzene Spice, Toluene Spice.

  10. KevinM said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 10:25 am

    Gotta be five – otherwise you're playing tennis without a net. See BobC & Toma.

  11. Belial Issimo said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 10:45 am

    Bah. Sweet Spice, Sour Spice, Salty Spice, Bitter Spice, and their new stepsister Umami Spice.

  12. Ben Zimmer said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 10:54 am

    Here's the earlier xkcd noted by mollymooly.

  13. Mara K said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 11:10 am

    @bks The Canadian Internet comedy group Loading Ready Run took that idea and ran with it in some of the sketches in this video.

  14. Guy said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 11:44 am

    Thumb Spice, Index Spice, Middle Spice, Ring Spice, and Pinky Spice.

  15. Ginger Yellow said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 11:51 am

    Is spice the plural of spouse?

    No, but it's how the Queen says it.

  16. Y said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 11:52 am

    Allspice, Auspice, Bespice, Haruspice, Hospice.

    (These are all of them in the OED.)

  17. Gregory Kusnick said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 11:53 am

    Tetraspice, Hexaspice, Octaspice, Dodecaspice, Icosaspice.

  18. Marta said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 12:32 pm

    Hollandaise Spice, Bechamel Spice, Veloute Spice, Tomate Spice, Espagnole Spice

  19. MattF said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

    1spice, 2spice, 3spice, 4spice, 5spice.

  20. Brett said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 12:58 pm

    @Jerry Friedman: I had no idea that there was a pronunciation of "baleen" that didn't have the same first syllable as "baby." However, the OED only lists a pronunciation with a schwa. I'm sure that I'm not the only person who pronounces it with an /e/; in fact, I'm pretty sure that's how it was pronounced on some the educational television programs (like 3-2-1 Contact) that I (and likely Randall) grew up with.

  21. Bob Moore said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 1:03 pm

    King Spice, Sockeye Spice, Coho Spice, Pink Spice, Chum Spice

  22. Sybil said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

    Joy Spice, Sadness Spice, Fear Spice, Disgust Spice, and Anger Spice.

    Not all girls, though, are they.

  23. Sybil said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 1:37 pm

    Tropospice, Stratospice, Mesospice, Thermospice, Exospice?

  24. Boursin said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 1:38 pm

    Spice in the Land of the Soviets, Spice in the Congo, Spice in America, Spice in Tibet, Spice and the Picaros.

  25. Meg Wilson said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

    The seven dwarves would actually make good spice names: Sneezy Spice, Grumpy Spice, Bashful Spice, Dopey Spice, Sleepy Spice, Happy Spice, and, um, Doc Spice (that last one doesn't work so well).

  26. Keith said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 2:37 pm

    KevinM wrote Gotta be five – otherwise you're playing tennis without a net.

    That's what I was thinking… the first three cells of the strip have sets with five members, then the fourth cell has no border and a set with four members. Then we're back to a set with five members and a border for the final cell.

    On reflection, this is perhaps the least amusing XKCD I've seen.

  27. Keith said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

    Meg, Doc Spice is Scary Spice (Melanie Brown) when she's wearing Doc Martens boots.

  28. Rachel said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 3:17 pm

    @Laura Morland
    Your 'factoid' is not quite right. The nicknames were not fan-generated but were an editorial decision by the magazine 'Top of the Pops' which happened to catch on.

  29. Peter said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

    Hastings Spice, Hythe Spice, Sandwich Spice, Dover Spice, Rye Spice?

  30. un malpaso said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 4:41 pm

    The 9 Wu Tang Clan member Spices?

    Old Dirty Bastardspice, Method Manspice, Ghostface Killaspice, RZAspice, Raekwonspice, GZAspice, U-Godspice, Inspectah Deckspice, Master Killerspice

  31. Stephen Hart said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 5:02 pm

    Rachel said, "@Laura Morland
    Your 'factoid' is not quite right."

    Well she *did* use the word "factoid." (Not factette or factino)

  32. James Flynn said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 5:17 pm

    I'll throw my hat into the ring:

    Upspice, downspice, leftspice, rightspice… inversespice(?), parallelspice (!?) Spicebird spicewards over and fall…!

    My apologies everybody, I'm not sure if Language Log is the place for obscure REM references.

  33. a George said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 5:46 pm

    —- it seems you have run out of spice! [cockney style]

  34. Bloix said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 5:55 pm

    Mohawk Spice, Oneida Spice, Onondaga Spice, Cayuga Spice, Seneca Spice, and Tuscarora Spice.

  35. Ray said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

    I love this thread. Iggy Azalea Spice, Ariana Grande Spice, Katy Perry Spice, Taylor Swift Spice, Meghan Trainor Spice.

  36. Mark Mandel said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 6:28 pm

    Respice, adspice, prospice
    The motto of City College of the City University of New York, one of my alma maters. It appears on the seal, under the triple image of the Maid, Mother, and Crone: An old woman in profile facing left, a mature woman in full face, and a young woman in profile facing right.

  37. Seonachan said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

    Length Spice, Width Spice, Height Spice, Time Spice, Twilight Spice.

  38. Viseguy said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

    Everyspice, Goodspice, Boyspice, Doesspice, Finespice. (Gee! Treble that…)

  39. Belial Issimo said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 8:24 pm

    Si facetias requiris, circumspice.

  40. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

    KevinM: Gotta be five – otherwise you're playing tennis without a net.

    I had a reason for wanting to get "species" in there. If you insist on five, we can have Wheat Spice, Barley Spice, Spelt Spice, Rye Spice, Oat Spice.

    By the way, how did you know what one of my (mis)quotations in my college yearbook entry was?

    Brett: Thanks. AHD, which I checked, has "baleen" only with a schwa in the first syllable, but M-W, which I didn't, has the schwaful pronunciation second.

    Anyway, for LLog's Sinophone contingent, we can have Fire Spice, Wood Spice, Water Spice, Earth Spice, Metal Spice.

    (Or Cinnamon Spice, Clove Spice, Fennel Spice, Star Anise Spice, Sichuan Pepper Spice.)

  41. Neal Goldfarb said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 9:24 pm

    Dice Spice, Lice Spice, Nice Spice, Twice Spice, Thrice Spice.

  42. Yerushalmi said,

    July 22, 2015 @ 11:38 pm

    * Red Spice, Blue Spice, Pink Spice, Black Spice, Yellow Spice. There was a Green Spice for a while, who actually started out as an anti-Spice; later he became White Spice.

    * Rosh Hashanah Spice, Yom Kippur Spice, Sukkot Spice, Pesach Spice, Shavuot Spice.

  43. Bill Benzon said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 5:34 am

    And then there's Alec Baldwin's name for Sarah Palin: Bible Spice.

  44. Bill Benzon said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 5:46 am

    Which leads to: Talmud Spice, Koran Spice, Bhagavad Gita Spice, Ramayana Spice, Tao Te Ching Spice, Diamond Sutra Spice, Book of Mormon Spice, and so forth – more than 5 spices in this set.

    What about Up Spice, Down Spice, Charm Spice, Strange Spice, Bottom Spice, and Top Spice? Whoops! Six in there.

    Amazon Spice, Mississippi Spice, Yangtze Spice, Congo Spice, Danube Spice.

    John Spice, Paul Spice, George Spice, Ringo Spice, Beatle Spice.

  45. Bill Benzon said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 5:52 am

    Junk Spice,Ruby Spice, Boris Yeltsin Spice, Milky Way Spice, Random Spice.

  46. empty said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 7:11 am

    I got the idea as a child (1960s) that the pronunciation "bayleen" was the usual one.

  47. BlueLoom said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 8:24 am

    @ Viseguy:

    Everyspice, Goodspice, Boyspice, Deservespice, Funspice.

    you musta had a very weird piano teacher!

  48. ajay said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 8:35 am

    Gambino Spice, Bonanno Spice, Genovese Spice, Lucchese Spice, Colombo Spice.

    Better still, Open Spice, Extrovert Spice, Conscientious Spice, Agreeable Spice and Neurotic Spice.

    Attlee Spice, Truman Spice, Stalin Spice, Chiang kai-Spice, General Charles de Spice.

  49. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 8:52 am

    Brett: Thanks. AHD, which I checked, has "baleen" only with a schwa in the first syllable, but M-W, which I didn't, has the schwaful pronunciation second.

    Sorry, I had the M-W part backwards. Their second pronunciation has "bay", with the primary stress, for the first syllable.

    Saruman Spice, Gandalf Spice, Radagast Spice, Morinehtar Spice, Rómestámo Spice.

    Allemand Spice, Courant Spice, Saraband Spice, Gigue Spice, Chaconne Spice.

  50. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 8:55 am

    BlueLoom: "Every Good Boy Does Fine" in my childhood too.

  51. Yerushalmi said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 8:57 am

    @Bill Benzon: The Talmud isn't the Jewish equivalent of the Bible or the Koran. The Talmud is a book of commentary and argumentation, albeit a holy one. The Jewish version of the Bible is the Tanach.

    Anyway, returning to the subject at hand:
    * Not many people know that the initial band was made up of Ant-Spice, Hulk Spice, Iron Spice, Thor Spice, and Wasp Spice; they only lasted one tour before Ant-Spice changed his name to Giant Spice, and Hulk Spice left to be replaced by Captain America Spice.

    * Angel Spice, Beast Spice, Cyclopspice, Icepice, and Marvel Spice

    * Star-Lord Spice, Gamora Spice, Drax Spice, Rocket Spice, Groot Spice

    * Ryan Spice, Colin Spice, Wayne Spice, Drew Spice, and a guest Spice that was often Greg or Brad.

  52. Yerushalmi said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 9:11 am

    * Faith Spice, Energy Spice, Mindfulness Spice, Concentration Spice, Wisdom Spice.
    * Song of Spice, Ruth Spice, Lamentations Spice, Ecclesiastes Spice, Esther Spice
    * Earth Spice, Air Spice, Fire Spice, Water Spice, Void Spice
    * Shahadah Spice, Salat Spice, Zakat Spice, Sawm Spice, Hajj Spice
    * American Spice, British Spice, French Spice, Chinese Spice, Russian Spice
    * K-T Spice, Triassic Spice, Permian Spice, Devonian Spice, Ordovician Spice

  53. Theophylact said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 9:32 am

    Utor Spice, Fruor Spice, Fungor Spice, Potior Spice, Vescor Spice.

    Star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, fennel.

  54. Emily said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 10:51 am

    Aren't all extinctions scary, though?

    If sets of more than five are okay: Mercury Spice, Venus Spice, Earth Spice, Mars Spice, Jupiter Spice, Saturn Spice, Uranus Spice, Neptune Spice. (Pluto is a dwarf spice as it hasn't cleared its section of the seasoning rack.)

    (I am fully semantically satiated with the word "spice" now.)

  55. Gregory Kusnick said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 11:48 am

    If sets of more than five are OK, then the door is open to everything from days of the week and states of the union to Harry Potter books and Fortune 500 companies. We'll all be well past satiation before that vein is tapped out.

    But Planet Spice can be rescued by limiting it to the five naked-eye planets known to the ancients: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

  56. J. W. Brewer said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

    Total-Depravity Spice, Unconditional-Election Spice, Limited-Atonement Spice, Irresistible-Grace Spice, and Perseverance-of-the-Saints Spice, collectively known as The Tulip Girls, with modern exegesis available from the Rev'd Susan Brown of the Church of Scotland, also known as (this is where Dave Barry would put the we-are-not-making-this-up disclaimer) Holy Spice.

  57. Michael Watts said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 5:44 pm

    The second pronunciation given by merriam-webster, \ˈbā-ˌlēn\, is how I pronounce it (actually, I'd be more inclined to say the primary stress is on the second syllable) and very likely how Randall Munroe pronounces it. I never knew there was another way.

    Cambridge dictionary seems to have no record of the word "baleen" at all, whether in American or British English.

  58. Michael Watts said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 5:50 pm

    You can also use the Oriental terms for the traditional planets: Water Spice, Gold Spice, Fire Spice, Wood Spice, and Earth Spice. This has the minor aesthetic benefit of still appearing to be a natural grouping of five even today.

    I've been wondering recently about the chinese names for the more recent planets: Pluto is 冥王星, the star of the king of the underworld. Neptune is 海王星, the star of the king of the sea. But Uranus is 天王星, the star of the king of the sky. As I understand classical mythology, the king of the sky would surely be Jupiter, and Uranus would be the sky itself. What happened in the translation?

  59. thunk said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 7:36 pm


    Well, the IAU-recognized dwarf planets make a set of five.

    Pluto Spice, Eris Spice, Haumea Spice, Makemake Spice, and Cerespice.

    So do escaping space probes: Voyager Spice (2x), Pioneer Spice (10 and 11), and New Horizons Spice.

  60. Rich Rostrom said,

    July 23, 2015 @ 11:00 pm

    Bronx Spice, Brooklyn Spice, Manhattan Spice, Queens Spice, Staten Island Spice?

    Spaghetti Spice, Beans Spice, Chili Spice, Onions Spice, Cheese Spice?

    Army Spice, Navy Spice, Air Force Spice, Marines Spice, Coast Guard Spice?

    Fluorine Spice, Chlorine Spice, Bromine Spice, Iodine Spice, Astatine Spice?

  61. Daniel said,

    July 25, 2015 @ 9:26 pm

    Ancient Spice, Feudal Spice, Capitalist Spice, Socialist Spice, Communist Spice

  62. Yerushalmi said,

    July 25, 2015 @ 11:28 pm

    Religion spice, Speech spice, Press spice, Petition spice, Assembly spice

  63. Nicki said,

    July 27, 2015 @ 3:57 am

    Elf Spice, Man Spice, Dwarf Spice, Goblin Spice, Eagle Spice

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