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Winter 2004-14 What exactly is spam

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Number 54
Winter 2004

What exactly is "spam"?

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language offers two definitions for the word "spam":

1- "A trademark used for a canned meat product consisting primarily of chopped pork pressed into a loaf."

2- "Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail."

With respect to the etymology of the second use of the word, it states: "From Spam (probably inspired by a comedy routine on the British television series Monty Python's Flying Circus, in which the word is repeated incessantly)."

A passage from Monty Python's famous script:

Man: "Well, what've you got?"

Waitress: "Well, there's egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, sausage, spam, spam, bacon, spam, tomato and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam; or Lobster Thermidor, a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provençale manner with shallots and aubergines, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and with a fried egg on top, and spam."

Wife (shrieks): "I don't like spam!"

Man: "Sshh, dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam!"

Waitress: "Baked beans are off."

Anti-spam law enacted

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