Which came first?

August 11, 2007

My boss, an MD/PhD, was about to say something when he suddenly forgot what it was. “Sorry,” he said. “Brain infarct.”

My first reaction was to giggle at this phrase, which sounded to me like a physician/scientist’s clever evasion of the term “brain fart” in favor of something less vulgar. But then I realized that, in the context of forgetfulness, “brain infarct” (brain damage caused by a loss of blood flow) actually makes a lot more sense than “brain fart” (which is . . . what, exactly?). Although I had initially assumed that the former excuse was inspired by the latter, maybe the opposite is true. Maybe people used to say “brain infarct” (or “brain farct”) all the time until somebody misheard it and started spreading the flatulence around.

So which came first, the infarct or the fart? Right now my money is on “infarct.”


  1. Actually, a "brain fart" is something different. The term refers to a random thought that "bubbles out" of your mouth without any connection to what is going on at the moment. A good example from the recent news is the kid on the news (and YouTube, of course) that, when asked if he was having fun at the fair, replied "I like turtles."Now, let's all go run!

  2. Bob: In my experience, many people use the term (rightly or wrongly) to refer to any sort of brain malfunction. Your definition makes sense, though….

  3. checking daily for updates, and we get brain farts/infarct?! which is why i check daily.after i run.

  4. Saw you running at Greenlake this morning – is that what you were thinking about as you ran around the lake? It did look like you were deep in thought about something…always nice to know what gets the elites through their workout!

  5. Laura: Perhaps you saw me while I was thinking about the new Fountains of Wayne song "Someone to Love," which I heard on the way to the lake. I ultimately decided that it was a narrative of the first three scenes of a hypothetical romantic comedy. Of course, the same could be said of "Yolanda Hayes"….

  6. Greg, maybe they both came about separately. I would imagine demographics would have a role in where or from whom you would hear either. Or, in which cirles you run. Or is that, around whom you run circles. OK, I'm lost. What was I saying? Sorry, brain cramp!*tc

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