On the box · Trivia · Word of the week

Word of the week: BRYBGR

How visual are you? Can you picture things in the correct order, like colours of the rainbow, or Olympic rings? If so, congratulations. The rest of us have to make do with mnemonics and acronyms for this sort of information.

For colours of the rainbow, I have always favoured the simple 7-letter word ROYGBIV (Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet) but am aware of “Richard of York gave battle in vain”, a phrase in which each word begins with the same letter as the relevant colour.

Here’s another mnemonic for you: BRYBGR. It’s what I use to memorize the order of the colours in the Google logo, which is something I see far more often than a real live rainbow. The letters stand for the same words as in ROYGBIV (or that phrase about Richard of York): Blue Red Yellow Blue Green Red, as you can probably work out.

Again, your visual acuity might be strong enough to visualize the logo whenever you want to, so you will know that both of the “G”s in Google are Blue, the first “O” is Red, the second “O” is Yellow, the “L” is Green and the final letter is also Red. If so, you would have done a lot better than contestants on a couple of quiz shows who lost money on questions related to colours in the logo.

A few years ago there was a 16k question on “Who wants to be a millionaire?” about this subject. It was phrased as follows:

“On the google.com homepage, the two letter Gs in the standard Google logo are usually what colour?”

A: Blue B: Yellow C: Green D: Red

As you can see from this clip, posted on 2 January 2019, the contestant used Phone-A-Friend, who thought it was Green. He then used 50/50 and was left with Blue and Green. Before that he thought it was Red. He decided not to use Ask the Host (“No offence …”) and went for Green. He lost 7k and went home with 1k, but not before host Jeremy Clarkson had said: “The maddest thing you’ve ever done. I knew it was Blue. And I was right.”

Last month, in this piece, I wrote about “One Question”, a new Channel 4 show hosted by Claudia Winkelman. The first three episodes have been broadcast on Friday nights in recent weeks. I have used All 4 (the channel’s streaming service) to watch the whole of the first series, so I know what’s coming next. In the next episode there’s a question involving the colour of a specific letter in the Google logo.

Spoiler Alert: In case you want to watch the show live (even though it’s been available online for over a fortnight), the next paragraphs reveal the question and what happened to the contestants. Look away now if you don’t want to know.

The contestants (two sisters from Scotland) were asked, “What is red?”

Among the incorrect answers were:

The surname of Christopher Lloyd’s character in the “Back to the Future” films [Brown]

Hair colour in Andy Warhol’s original Marilyn diptych [Yellow]

The Sea North of Turkey [Black]

The word Twirl on the chocolate wrapper [Yellow]

With the help of offers (reducing the 100k jackpot by trading clues and eliminating answers) they were left with four possible options, including the correct answer: The letter “e” in the Google logo.

Unfortunately, they eliminated this answer too and left without any money. They probably know what ROYGBIV stands for. If they had known BRYBGR as well, they could have won 100k. I knew it, but if the question had been about Olympic rings I would have been stumped. Here, in case it ever comes up, is some information about the Olympic rings.

The five rings are arranged in two rows, three on top and two below. They use the following colours: Blue Black Red (top row) Yellow Green (bottom row). They are offset so that the Yellow ring is interlocking with Blue (above and to the left) and Black (above and to the right). The Green ring interlocks with Black (above and to the left) and Red (above and to the right).

Reading from left to right, ignoring which row each colour is on, the order is: Blue Yellow Black Green Red. Like the Google logo, it has Blue at the start and Red at the end, and Yellow is to the left of Green. A line drawn from the centre of the Blue circle to the centre of the Yellow, Black, Green and Red circles in that order will be shaped like a “W”.

If you have a strong visual preference you’ll probably want to see all of this. Click here to view the Olympic symbols Wikipedia page. One glance might be enough to fix the image in your memory, but I will have to find a mnemonic or two to add to ROYGBIV and BRYBGR.


2 thoughts on “Word of the week: BRYBGR

  1. Oh yes – strong visual preference is me, have a wonderful visual memory of “Go Ogle”. No way I can post an image here (maybe a good thing).

    And rainbows too – I actually saw a ROYGBV x3 (triple rainbow – and it’s actually 6 dominant colours – Newton had too much of a fixation with 7’s) about 6 weeks ago, sun a few minutes before sunset, heavy thunderstorm droplets to my East with a dark knoll behind them. I studied it carefully to make sure, as I know they are supposed to be rare if not existentially doubted.

    But I digress – I wanted to talk Initialisms – specifically SYML – WDWGILY.

    Here’s the background, and it literally unfolded before me in the last hour …

    Watched a darn good Manifest episode this evening, think its S03 E03 (the one where Ben and Saanvi get into the lab and see the hull of flight 828 being tested – won’t be a plotspoiler in case you still have to watch it).

    This track fades in and out very briefly at the end of the episode, wow – what an interesting track – it turns out that all of SYML’s music is extremely powerful

    = SYML – SYM-metry

    SYML is the solo venture of Brian Fennell

    Fennell currently performs under the solo project SYML. It means “simple” in Welsh, and is pulled from his own personal heritage. He was adopted as a child, and later found out that his biological parents are Welsh. His experience grappling with his adoption and heritage are influences in his songwriting.

    Brian Fennell was born on January 16, 1983 in Issaquah, Washington. After living in and around Seattle, he returned to his hometown and lives there currently where he writes and produces out of a home studio.

    So have a guess what SYML and WDWGILY stand for before you Go Ogle it.

    (BTW I got SYML totally wrong, got led on the wrong path by their track Symmetry. However I got the first 4 words of WDWGILY correct, and still think my full 7 word version would have been an awesome track title.)


  2. Nothing to do with initialisms, but above has unusual synchronicity for me : heard this morning on the news : Mo Farrell’s revelation he had been trafficked from Somalia, and adopted by English parents.


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