Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Enlighten Me, Please

More help wanted.

Having exhausted the resources of Google on this subject (this may be the ONE thing Google won't tell me), I turn to another wonder of the internet for the answer to my burning question: What the heck does "crickets" mean?

I've been wondering for a while, as the phrase occasionally pops up here and there, but never in the context where I can ask the question of a live person. I've been tolerating this gap in my vocabulary for a while now. But when I heard the sound used in a financial story on NPR (Financial Reform: A lot to get through), it was the last straw to my camel of ignorance.

So, my clever, modern, bloggy friends, I know you know. Tell me, what does it mean? Where does it come from? (Am I missing more than I think by not watching t.v.?)


  1. My understanding is that it is a place filler indicating that no one is going to answer your question.

    The only sound you hear is the crickets singing.

    If you're at one of those meetings where they are explaining something or other to a group, and then the presenter at the end asks if there are any questions, and there is that longish awkward pause.....*crickets* ......I've never heard it spoken, I think, but I haven't been living in English for a while....I do see it in blogs.

    I checked the Urban dictionary and got this...

  2. I have the same impression as oreneta - "crickets" means that thing where nobody responds to the last thing that was said.

    Like my sister was in this adolescent lit class recently, and they read Looking for Alaska; and one girl was talking about the awkward scene where the girl doesn't know how to do a blow job. And she said, "Let's face it, girls, we've all been there!"


    (Because, awkward.)

  3. Yup, same response as above. I think it might help to remember that you generally hear crickets only when you're someplace noticeably quieter than what you're used to. E.g., a city-dweller used to plenty of night noise (driving, sirens, people) vacationing in the country would actively notice the (sometimes quite loud) sound of crickets, which comes to symbolize (human-related) silence.

  4. Okay, got it! Thanks, y'all. I guess I was slow to pick up on this because we have cicadas here that "sing" in the summers and they are quite loud, so not associated with (awkward) silences at all.

    And Jenny, your story made me laugh! Another example that supports my theory that what we see in literature is often more about us than about the work.


Talk to me! I love external validation.