The Dreaded Earworm

No, I don’t mean the corn earworm, although the gardeners and farmers of the world might have a word to say about these pests…

English: A corn earworm (helicoverpa zea) larv...

English: A corn earworm (helicoverpa zea) larva (possibly in 3rd instar) in situ on a cob of corn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m talking about that nasty little bugger of a song that sets up housekeeping in your head!

You know the kind.  That pesky song or catchy tune that goes on and on

in a loop,

for hours,

sometimes even days!

And to clarify this phenomenon for you, he actually doesn’t even live in your ear.

He lives here in your auditory cortex.

The primary auditory cortex is one of the main...

The primary auditory cortex is one of the main areas associated with superior pitch resolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I looked the word up on the Mirriam Webster site and they’ve listed its first known use as 1802, but won’t give us a clue as to where or by whom.  Bad form, sez I! says it hails from Germany and that it is pronounced Ohrwurm.  However, they give its first use in 1980 to 1985.

I even paid a visit to the venerable Oxford Dictionary, surely they must…  NOPE!  They barely acknowledge it is a word and that, seemingly, is as far as they will allow.

Still searching for its true origins led me to an article in the Guardian by Vadim Prokhorov, on June 22, 2006, entitled Can’t Get it Out of My Head.  

Herein I read the following quote from Dr. James Kellaris’ study on the earworm, at the University of Cincinnati, in which he states:

“Earworms seem to be an interaction between properties of music (catchy songs are simple and repetitive), characteristics of individuals (levels of neuroticism) and properties of the context or situation (first thing in the morning, last thing at night or when people are under stress),”


Oh, now, we don’t like that, do we?


Well, I suppose if we must suffer with the occasional earworm, then at least mine will prove to be one of the gentler variety.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Pssst… I thought Dave F. at Yet Another Comic had a great take on the dreaded earworm.  Go have a look!



What songs can’t you get out of your head?


Photo Credit: Earworms: Why That Song Gets Stuck In Your Head


My friend Marianna sent me the cure for an earworm and I just had to share it with you!