Perils of: unspacedalllowercase

An annoyance of references to sites on the net is that


If your site is named Mouse Envy or mouse envy or MouseEnvy or mouseEnvy, your helpful hints to the parsing of the name are totally erased in the name


which could represent all sorts of things, like the joint project name

Mo. U. See & N. Vy

Normally this is just an annoyance, but sometimes the transformation could induce serious misreadings.

On Facebook recently, Robert Coren reported on a possible problem with the website for a Han Dynasty restaurant — handynasty — because it was subject to misparsing as handy + nasty. Others followed with other possibilities:

Pen Island — penisland — penis + land

Experts Exchange — expertsexchange — expert + sex change

[from Italy] Powergen Italiana — powergenitalia — power + genitalia

I don’t know anything about the purported originals (except for Han Dynasty) or about whether there’s been an actual issue over net access for the potentially ambiguous unspacedlowercase versions. But they’re still good stories, se non è vero, è ben trovato.


6 Responses to “Perils of: unspacedalllowercase”

  1. mikepope Says:

    Some are urban legendish, but others are for real. This is from the Talk section of the Wikipedia article about domain names:

    The genuine ones are and Of the other three: Expert’s Exchange is now at; proves it used to lack the hyphen, though the hyphenated version predates it by 2 years, so this is arguably somewhat an urban legend too.

    If you’re a fan of the TV show “Arrested Development,” you might also remember the joke (non-domain-name related) about Tobias Funke’s attempt at becoming an “analyst-therapist”:

  2. thnidu Says:

    See also “Scunthorpe problem”, e.g. at

  3. mikepope Says:

    re: Scunthorpe problem–heh. When I was at Microsoft, we had a tool that would scan our stuff to identify terms that might raise geopolitical (or other) issues. It occasionally found offensive strings in unexpected places. (Tho as one of the commenters notes, it didn’t seem to find problems with names like GetFileAttributesEx.)

  4. Ben Zimmer Says:

    In John Oliver’s much-watched segment on Trump/Drumpf, he joked about the defunct travel booking site (about 11 minutes in).

  5. H. S. Gudnason Says:

    Many decades ago I was riding in the back of the family car on the way to a funeral for a favorite aunt. As we drove through one of those trendy developments where British-Isle street names were supposed to bestow class, I noticed a sign for Penistone Street. I’m afraid I lost it and had one of those giggling fits that sometimes interrupt moments of great solemnity. My family was shocked, but I couldn’t be explain what had set me off, so I mumbled something about stress.

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