2814: Perseids Pronunciation

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Perseids Pronunciation
When speaking out loud, you can can [sic] call it the 'Perseids meatier shower' and no one will ever know. (If you do get caught somehow, just tell them to Google the 'Kentucky meat shower' and that will distract them while you escape.)
Title text: When speaking out loud, you can can [sic] call it the 'Perseids meatier shower' and no one will ever know. (If you do get caught somehow, just tell them to Google the 'Kentucky meat shower' and that will distract them while you escape.)


This comic references the Perseids meteor shower, which is active in July and August. Their name ultimately derives from the ancient Greek hero Perseus (for his pronunciation, check Perseus). There are various ways of pronouncing Perseids, and Randall gives the obvious ones before the comic spirals into virtual nonsense, or possibly parodies of common euphemistic replacement words. This is written from an American English perspective.

It should be noted that the last consonant is often pronounced as a "z" sound rather than "s" (the technical term is "voiced"), which is not reflected in these spellings.

Section Term Explanation
Generally accepted PER-see-ids Standard 3-syllable English pronunciation.
PURSE-yids Standard 2.5 syllable pronunciation, nearly indistinguishable from the previous.
Also heard sometimes Per-SEE-ids The emPHAsis on the seCOND sylLAble is nonSTANdard.
Per-SAY-ids Accepted British pronunciation of Perseids with "classical" pronunciation of the "ei" digraph.
Generally frowned on Per-SIDES Two syllables with a Germanic pronunciation of the "ei" digraph.
Per-ZAY-uds Voiced "S" phoneme. Could be acceptable in New Zealand.
PER-suds Two syllables, ignoring the digraph altogether and making it schwa.
Definitely wrong Perky-ids Backformed from the C=S equivalence but from the wrong kide.
Pewpewpews An onomatopoeia for electron hole guns and fictional laser guns.
Per-say-says This is a tradition of rhyming lazy/cute slang, like referring to the vagina as va-jay-jay.
Percies "Percies" is plural of Percy, the short form of Perseus, and could easily be an abbreviated/informal form of "Perseids", especially when spoken.
Purps "Purps" is close to "Perps", a short slang form of Perpetrator (generally the person responsible for a crime). Conceivably an evolution of pronunciation from re-extending the even more abbreviated "Pers" with a new plosive ending re-added.
Percies Purps Together, this would be a name of a criminal gang, led by Perseus or Perseid.
Pepsids "Pepsids" could refer to Pepcid (an antacid), or it could also be referencing the Pepsi brand, through insertion of a single plosive 'p' in the loosely pronounced original word.
Peeps "Peeps", derived vocally similarly to "purps", are possibly shorebirds that are not always easy to identify (for example the Least Sandpiper), also known as "stints". Or, continuing the bird theme, could directly reference a spongy candy which is shaped and decorated like baby chickens. It is also a common slang term for "people"; particularly an in-group that the speaker identifies with, as in "my peeps".
Pepsids Peeps Together, these would be people who bond over their reliance on Pepcid (and their interest in the Perseids, hence spelling it with an S)

The title text mentions how "meteor" sounds like "meatier," although the meanings are completely different. It suggests telling people about the Kentucky meat shower, an anomalous weather event in 1876, as a way to distract them. It also has the word "can" twice.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
How to pronounce the name of the Perseids meteor shower
Generally accepted
Also heard sometimes
Generally frowned on
Definitely wrong
Percies Purps
Pepsids Peeps

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I'm afraid to google the Kentucky Meat Shower. 14:43, 11 August 2023 (UTC)

I can give you a very quick summary: when startled, vultures will sometimes regurgitate their last meal, both to lighten themselves for a quick escape, and make a potential predator lose its appetite. Apparently, something startled a bunch of vultures at the same time, and nobody knows exactly what. 14:55, 11 August 2023 (UTC)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_meat_shower Shamino (talk) 14:59, 11 August 2023 (UTC)

"can" is repeated in the title text. 14:53, 11 August 2023 (UTC)

On August 11, 2023, XKCD was not the only web comic to reference the "Kentucky Meat Shower". It is the full subject of the day's Dinosaur Comics, at http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=4085. And August 11 is not even an anniversary of the event (March 3, 1876). Coincidence? Time travel? You be the judge. JohnB (talk) 15:32, 11 August 2023 (UTC)

This tells me neither how acceptable things like my default lazy pronunciation, nor the original ancient greek pronunciation of its namesake, are considered. How am I supposed to guess where combinations of variations like PEER-, -seh-, and -ides would affect placement in the list? 19:12, 11 August 2023 (UTC)

It's not wrong, per-se. (ed.) ProphetZarquon (talk) 21:40, 11 August 2023 (UTC)

That's exactly how I pronounce it. (per se) + ids. per-say-ids. 10:04, 12 August 2023 (UTC)
ed ≠ id, though.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 17:07, 13 August 2023 (UTC)
  • PER-see-ids: standard(ish, YMMV) 3-syllable verson of the word.
  • PURSE-yids: standardish 2-(/2.5-)syllable version.
  • Per-SEE-ids: yeah, I'd accept that emphisis, in a pinch.
  • Per-SAY-ids: ok, so you like that version of the 'ei' digraph; might even be 'classical'.
  • Per-SIDES: Germanic digraph and irregular (in this case) phomeme boundries, but each to their own.
  • Per-ZAY-uds: I can see most of this, accent permitting; the '<schwa>ds' is a surprising twist.
  • PER-suds: you dont care about the digraph at all, do you?
  • Perky-ids: Back-formed through "C/S equivalence", I'm guessing, but from the wrong s(e)ide?
  • Pewpewpews: Onomatopœia!!!
  • Per-say-say: Bowdlerised, as if the original is a 'naughty' word.
  • Percies: Shortened through familiarity.
  • Purps: Shortened/perhaps linked to "perp(etrator)s".
  • Pepsids: Sponsorship! (Did we also get the "Dracokids", 6-10 Oct?)
  • Peeps: Anthopomorphised, the lot of 'em!

...my first thoughts, but I'm sure there are competing claims so I'll leave this down here for the time being. 23:28, 11 August 2023 (UTC)

Per-ZAY-uds seems like it could be acceptable in New Zealand. 08:40, 16 August 2023 (UTC)

The list in the Explanation's table was missing most of them, and the Transcript separated the two-word entries into separate entries! Fixed all that. Filled in my analyses of the missing pronunciations, I'm sure others can flesh them out better, add relevant links as I couldn't be bothered to both think of things to link and figure out the best way to link them (and make the multi-entry rows look proper). Also, someone severely misunderstood what "Peeps" would mean, it seems clearly to be the slang for "people". The goofy entries seemed to require separate descriptions, so I left them as separate rows as the cleanest/clearest layout I can think of for that, with the rudimentary understanding of Wiki tables I could glean from what was already there. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 06:46, 12 August 2023 (UTC)

I'm convinced it's "Percies" and "Purps" and "Pepsids" and "Peeps", at the end, not "Percies Purps" and "Pepsids Peeps". Just arrayed in two columns as they're shortened enough to make it an unasethetic layout to extend by two rows and add so much gap at the end of four lines. "Pewpewpews" aside, none of the others more than double the "p"s from the original single one. It can be forgiven to bookend a short phoneme (Purps, Peeps), but sounds off to revisit the pattern (twice!) in this manner, with no clear connection between paired elements. Just my own observation, though. 20:22, 12 August 2023 (UTC)
I know! Look at the size of the spacing between the left and right elements - those aren't two-word terms, no way.
I can see how an at-a-glance read might come up with "Pepsids Peeps" and "Percies Perps"...but at-a-glance reading seems a little out of place on an analytical forum!
Those are four seperate names.Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 07:35, 13 August 2023 (UTC)
I don't know why SO many of you are making this mistake! No, last 2 lines are unquestionably 2 entries, sorry. It's weird Randall put so much space, it's unfortunate the spaces line up to be easily mistaken for columns, but they're only 2. Randall can make the comic longer to fit more lines if he wanted them to be separate entries. Sorry, there is no room for debate here. Normally I wouldn't make such changes/decisions so unilaterally, but this is so beyond question that I know there's no room for error, it's safe to proceed. How can I say this so certainly with such conviction? Easy. None of the 4 words can alone reasonably replace "Perseids". They work as a team. "Percies" and "Pepsids" replaces "Perse-", "Purps" and "Peeps" replaces "-ids". "Percies" is even spelled SO similarly to "Perse-", enough that we would pronounce them the same, except for the S on "Percies"! How do you imagine the 1-syllable "Purps" and "Peeps" replaces the 3-syllable "Perseids"? Notice how "Percies" and "Pepsids" are 2 syllables each, meaning that as two teams, they're each 3-syllables replacing 3-syllables! Actually, this is true of the whole Definitely Wrong group, all are 3-syllables. IDK, maybe I'm just more used to people who mangle words, but it makes a certain sense, actually. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:25, 19 August 2023 (UTC)
"Sorry, there is no room for debate here." - That's the main error you make. (I repeat the "too many 'P's" as a direct counter to "too few syllables", for example. It's at least as significant an argument, based upon preceding ’words' in the list.)
Might have been more fortunate if it had been something like...
Longitem Item
Item Longitem
...but it wasn't, for whatever reason. Maybe for the same aesthetic reason as made it preferable to not run "long long" and "short short" (aligned) or each to their own line with loads of trailing deadspace. So, instead, what trouble we now have? Obscured by the ambiguity... (Unintentional ambiguity? Or possibly even done with full consciousness of how readers might be nerdsniped. Wouldn't put that past him, either.) 08:10, 19 August 2023 (UTC)
By "no room for debate here", I meant there's no potential for you guys to be right, sorry. There is no question, there is no chance. I mean, I could see "Percies" and "Pepsids" acting alone, being extra casual by dropping syllables (like calling "Perceus" "Percies" for short), but that leaves "Purps" and "Peeps" as orphans, there is simply not enough to them to pretend they could replace "Perseids"). The "too many Ps" is alliteration, because people enjoy when two or more words in a row start with the same letter, especially anyone immature/casual enough to say these instead of the real word. And the extra Ps makes the wrong versions extra wrong. Not putting dashes, putting separate words, enhances the alliteration. Just try saying "Perseids" properly and "Percies Purps" back-to-back, back and forth. Especially quickly. Same with "Pepsids Peeps". Other than adding the alliterative extra Ps, they DO sound very similar. "It wasn't, for some reason", I GAVE you the reason, because there ARE no short items! NO two entries share a line! Each entry is its own line! There is no ambiguity! The thing is, both sets of words are the same length, so it LOOKS like columns. He probably extra went with it because it looks visually appealing, that might be why there's so much space, to give him the room to make them line up while making sure there's enough space to properly separate the words, he over-compensated. And notice how the columns concept falls apart in that the higher entries extend far enough right to be OVER the potential second column. If this comic were done in text form, you'd have to fudge the columns, ALL the higher entries would have to be coded to take two columns, to allow the bottom entries to have two columns. Frankly, 3-syllables for 3-syllables is where the argument falls apart the most. They are two entries, not 4, sorry. This isn't the first time it has seemed like me and Randall seem to align in our thoughts, I always just get what he means, often in cases where some people here are not sure. This is one of them. I just wish someone else who sees the truth would speak up, because it seems like there are too many confused people here. Though below makes a good point, I haven't heard of this "Pepsi x Peeps", but assuming it does actually exist, the timing and two letter difference makes this connection fairly guaranteed, and also supports what I'm saying about "Pepsids Peeps" being one entry. :) (Which indirectly supports "Percies Purps" being one, as then it would make no sense to have one line being 2 entries and the other being 1). NiceGuy1 (talk) 18:48, 20 August 2023 (UTC)
<<By "no room for debate here", I meant there's no potential for you guys to be right, sorry.>> - You are very definite about this. But clearly very very wrong at least about there being no alternative to your worldview. I actually made a compromise anser, whch someone else nixed in favour of the "four words only" explanatiob, which I think was too definie, also, but there is more than enough "not two words" reason, for all of your adamant arguments in total unflinching support of "two words only". Perhaps take a step back (as everyone should) and allow for a bit of lateral opinion? 20:04, 20 August 2023 (UTC)
I nixed your compromise, sorry (not sorry), because
1) 4 words, no room for debate ;-p
2) the notes on the 2-word phrases were like "APPLES BANANAS is what you get when you put apples and bananas together", i.e. they had no explanatory power (on explainxkcd.com !), and were not surprising nor particularly funny ("nothing of value was lost").
3) the simple table is the more pleasing, easier to read layout. 05:42, 23 August 2023 (UTC)
Actually, it's 2 terms, no room for debate, as I've already explained, in detail, twice. :) (I didn't see the compromise so I cannot comment on 2, but no. It's NOT "apples bananas", it's "pineapples" instead of "pine apples". These are one term each. "Percies Purps" is one term, its perpetrators led by Perceus, and "Pepsids Peeps" is one term, it's people bonded over their use of Pepcid, just that each word needs explaining first). As for 3, sorry, a "pleasing" table takes a backseat to a correct one. I know, putting the individual word explanations makes the entry LONG, but that can't be helped.
Interesting how a select few people too blind to see past the 4-word idea are trying to insist I leave room to consider the wrong idea that Randall may have meant this as 4 terms, but you can't allow any room for the correct explanation? That's not how it works on this site. When there's more than one plausible explanation, we list them all, even when they're unlikely. (Which is part of what makes this significant, the 4 words explanation is THAT MUCH not possible, that it shouldn't even be listed as a possibility. However, _I_ would be open minded to a compromise. Leaving out the correct explanation is not an option, though. I'd leave it alone as long as the correct explanation was in there, I always do). NiceGuy1 (talk) 20:02, 24 August 2023 (UTC)
Except this isn't "my worldview", it is the correct answer. You don't seem to realize how significant this is. Yes. I'm very definite about this, that's the point. Because it is fact. I cannot stress this enough. Honestly, I'm fine with leaving the wrong answer in - I always do, except usually the wrong answer is only unlikely - as long as the correct answer is there too, and it's not. The correct answer should be the most prominent. The thing is, as I've been saying, there's no possibility this time. It is so impossible, it shouldn't be there, at all. Better to leave it out than spread this confusion any further. Here's the thing: I am the MOST "take a step back", lateral opinion person you will ever encounter, bar none. I find myself more able to see all sides and points of view than anybody, it's like a superpower, I pride myself on it. When people see things in black & white, I spot the greys. So understand just how significant it is that I am expressing THIS level of certainty, how absolutely impossible it is for 4 terms to be right. NiceGuy1 (talk) 20:02, 24 August 2023 (UTC)
By my count, "select few people" who insist on 4 1-word terms outnumber (however you count them) just the one person who is definite on it being 2 2-word terms. I don't mind giving both options, on the off-chance, but I still think your reasoning is inferior and less justifiable. Are you wrong? Probably, but I've got nothing against being in error (the gods know I've been wrong on the odd occasion), just the dogmatic lone-wolf attitude and rather unconvincing magniminity in finally making the concession that was first given from the 'other side' of the argument... I won't respond to the 'reasoning', below, because sucficient counter-arguments already exist and there's no need to repeat them. 21:20, 24 August 2023 (UTC)
"By your count", it IS quite common for the wrong people to be more vocal. I'm outnumbered here like 2 or 3-to-1, but that's only 1 or 2 people more, chances are all the people who agree with the truth just aren't speaking up, and we actually ARE the majority. With this community I expect this is the case. How many just understand the comic and aren't looking at the explanation at all? How many see this mess and don't want to jump in? How many people don't realize they can comment without even having a login? And number of people is irrelevant anyway, the truth is more important than how many believe it. Lots of people believe lots of crazy things. My reasoning is actually flawless and perfectly justified, that's how I know it's the truth. :) The thing is, the "lone-wolf" certainty is because this site is ALWAYS plagued by uncertainty, people unsure about the clearest and most likely things, clinging to unlikely possibilities. But this time it just isn't possible, so it seems like the confused people need to hear some certainty in order to clarify things. Of course, human nature being what it is, some people don't like being proven wrong and just stubbornly double down on the incorrect answer. Too bad those are the ones speaking up. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:04, 26 August 2023 (UTC)
Two reasons for why it's 4 words:
1) Randall hyphenates every word combination above, but he didn't hyphenate PERCIES-PURPS nor PEPSIDS-PEEPS.
2) Phonetically, Perseids starts with an "er" sound and ends with an "ee" sound. Either can get dropped, but their order is not reversed: it would sound too dissimilar to "Perseids". "Percies" and "Pepsids" follow this rule, "Percies-Purps" and "Pepsids-Peeps" do not. 07:42, 20 August 2023 (UTC)
He didn't hyphenate because he's adding alliteration, anyone who would be THIS silly and casual would enjoy the two words starting with a P, and the alliteration is enhanced by two SEPARATE words, no hyphens. Also, the hyphens are only even there because that's how you separate pronunciation syllables, those last TWO aren't even trying to be a pronunciation guide any more, just replacements. Notice, "Percies" should be "per-CEES", "Pepsids" as "pep-SIDS" if they were still being pronunciation guides, but they aren't. Your 2) falls apart by itself, "Perse-" is what phonetically starts with "er" and ends with "ee", as does "Percies", leaving "Purps" to replace "-ids" (which always rhymes with pluralizing "did", every time I hear it), so, no, "Perceids" does NOT end in an "ee" sound. Which means you made an argument for my side there, :) If you ignore the alliteration as its own thing, "urps" replaces "-ids", it's the S that phonetically lines up, plus the P sound sounding similar to the D sound. Admittedly, the "er" and "ids" start and end match between "Pepsids" and "Perseids", but it doesn't match due to the mismatched syllables. (I've been involved in a lot of karaoke song parodies, writing and seeing others write silly replacement lyrics, maybe THAT'S how I have a strong instinct for this. When getting silly, parodying, matching syllables is important to maintain the connection). Like I said above, try saying "Perseids" back-to-back with each two word pair, back and forth, quickly, you should see how they line up. NiceGuy1 (talk) 18:48, 20 August 2023 (UTC)
"didn't hyphenate because he's adding alliteration" - counterexamples PEWPEWPEWS and PER-SAY-SAYS
"the hyphens are only even there because that's how you separate pronunciation syllables" - counterexample PERKY-IDS
"Perceids" does NOT end in an "ee" sound - the letter "i" produces this sound. It does not produce the "er" of PURPS.
"try saying "Perseids" back-to-back with each two word pair, back and forth, quickly, you should see how they line up." - lines up fine with PERCIES and PEPSIDS, PURPS is a bit of an extreme contraction of PERSEIDS, and PEEPS is a very unlikely contraction of it which you might arrive at if you said "Perseids" twenty times as fast as possible and then speed up.
Please be a nice guy and accept that your take is the odd one here. 07:54, 21 August 2023 (UTC)
"PEWPEWPEWS" is just how that cartoon onomatopoeia goes, no spaces is common, and it would ruin these two. "PER-SAY-SAYS" was before he completely abandoned the pronunciation guide format (Again, note how "Percies" should be "per-CIES" if he was still doing that). So, no, neither are counterexamples. "Perky-ids" he's starting to abandon the pronunciation guide. I might even posit it's there for different reasons, to isolate "Perky" out of the complete entry. So, not a counterexample either. The ONLY way I've heard "Perseids" said, it's the first one in the comic, the "i" is NOT an "ee" sound, "id" is always pronounced like "did". No, it does NOT line up with "Percies" and "Pepsids", because those are 2 syllables and "Perseids" is 3 (do you not know how to actually SAY Perseids? It's in this comic! The first first pronunciation!). Match 2-syllables to 2-syllables and you're comparing "Percies" with "Perce-" - essentially "Percy" - which would be pronounced the same but adding the S, and "Pepsids" with "Perce-", not far off. Being a different number of syllables is the opposite of "lining up". "Extreme" and "unlikely", that's how you know they're not trying to be that. They are PARTS of an entry, not the whole.
And finally, I AM a nice guy, :) I didn't choose this name lightly, which is why I'm trying to teach something here. I'm actually the best at seeing all sides, seeing the merits and arguments for all sides, and this one died. Also, the extreme lack of nicknames make it hard to tell (and suggests a lack of conviction), but the impression is that only like 3 of you are taking this side. My side just isn't speaking up - likely that the people who agree with me don't comment, or realize they can, or don't want to take part in an argument. And even if I WAS alone, being odd is irrelevant anyway, what actually matters is the truth, that I'm right. NiceGuy1 (talk) 20:02, 24 August 2023 (UTC)

I think the "Pepsids Peeps" is a reference to the Pepsi x Peeps soda that got released a few months ago—the first word could be a cross between PEPSI and perseiDS. Presumably, they are very sugary meteors. 12:00, 12 August 2023 (UTC)

Is someone familiar with the phonetic notation system used in the comic able to convert it to something more generally acceptable like IPA? Tharkon (talk) 17:14, 12 August 2023 (UTC)

It's "informal", and seems to be similar to the wikipedia one. 01:50, 13 August 2023 (UTC)

No "per-seed"? I once heard a newscaster say it that way. SDSpivey (talk) 18:38, 12 August 2023 (UTC)

I heard a BBC newsreader say "PER-sid" yesterday. As though it were a compound of "perse" and "id".Yorkshire Pudding (talk) 07:41, 13 August 2023 (UTC)

Why not "per-sayds"? 01:50, 13 August 2023 (UTC)

I always rhymed it with “Mercedes” for some reason. 11:09, 18 August 2023 (UTC)

It seems likely to me this is going to be regional. I was always taught "Per-SAY-ids" to be correct (EN-GB). I've never heard anyone say "PER-see-ids" or "PURSE-yids". 09:58, 13 August 2023 (UTC)

I've been saying pur-see-IDES (where instead of ids, i say ides, like the Ides of March) 19:03, 14 August 2023 (UTC)

Pepsident Media Shower 08:43, 16 August 2023 (UTC)

Laser Guns[edit]

I removed possibly for the resemblance of the flashes of light both laser guns and meteors make in the sky. In real life, neither lasers nor meteors make much sound at all. from the explanation for pewpewpews because it doesn't make sense. If meteors made a pewpewpew sound, then laser guns might be sounded like them for their resemblance; but since they don't make that sound, if laserd were SFXed for that resemblance, they'd be silent. There's no logic in bringing up meteors at all. I believe "pew" could describe a bullet whistling by. 07:23, 20 August 2023 (UTC)

We climbed to the top of a hill where there was a small radio tower in the hopes that the wind would make some interesting sounds in the tower or the support cables.  I picked up a rock and banged on the cable just for fun and Ben said,  "That sounds like the imaginary laser gun ought to sound!" 

So he recorded the sounds there and later in California he looked around for other towers and finally found one that he especially liked in the Mohave desert in California. There was a broken brace hanging on the cable that added a special quality to the sound and that was the one he used in combination with some other sounds to create the sound of the laser gun.

Source: https://filmsound.org/starwars/lasergunstory.htm 07:55, 20 August 2023 (UTC)