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Chemistry Jokes

     Daffy Definitions

     Elementary Puns

     From Bad To Verse



Chemistry Jokes
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A chemistry teacher was berating the students for not learning the Periodic Table of the Elements. She said "Why when I was your age I knew both their names and weights." One kid popped up, "Yeah, but teach, there were so few of them back then."


(A man and a woman are sitting at a bar. One has a shirt saying 'Polar', the other, 'Non-polar.') Man: Sorry, I just don't think the chemistry is right.


A mole of moles would collapse under its own weight and become a black mole.


A mordant thought: Old color chemists never dye, they just fade away


A small furry mammal walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says, "Sorry, our maximum occupancy is only 6.00 x 1023. We can't serve a mole."


Another example is the name for a molecule that is not ionized. Is "unionized" a synonym for neutral? (No, it means they will stop carrying a charge until they get more money.)


Chemistry is really funny; there are even people who laugh at nitrogen(I) oxide (nitrous oxide).


Cole's Law: Thinly sliced cabbage.


Did you hear about the industrialist who had a huge chloroform spill at his factory? His business went insolvent.


Distilled waters run the deepest.


Every dipole has its moment.


Free radicals have revolutionized chemistry.


Got mole problems? Call Avogadro at 602-1023.


H2O is water and H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide. What is H2O4? Drinking.


Have you heard the one about a chemist who was reading a book about helium and just couldn't put it down?


How about the chemical workers — are they unionized?


How do you make a 24-molar solution? Put you artificial teeth in water.


How many atoms in a guacamole? Avocado's number.


How many physical chemists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but he'll change it three times, plot a straight line through the data, and then extrapolate to zero concentration.


How many physical chemists does it take to wash a beaker? None. That's what organic chemists are for!


I was helping out in a first year undergraduate practical class when I came across a girl who was washing Potassium Bromide plates under the tap. I said to her, "I hope you are not washing those plates under the tap!" She replied, "No, I'm using distilled water."


If a bear in Yosemite and one in Alaska both fall into the water, which one dissolves faster? The one in Alaska, because it is polar.


If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.


Isaac Asimov said that if you want to find a chemist, ask him/her to discuss the following words: mole, unionized. As he so eloquently put it, "If he starts talking about furry animals and organized labor, keep walking."


It takes alkynes to make a world. (ACS Bumper Sticker)


It's good to keep a positive attitude and not have an electron cloud hanging over your head.


Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!


Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. Biochemistry is the study of carbon compounds that crawl. (Mike Adams)


Physical Chemistry is research on everything for which the negative logarithm is linear with 1/T. (D.L. Bunker)


Subatomic particle store sign:

     Protons $1
     Electrons -$1
     Neutrons no charge


T.A.B.L.E. = Periodic Table


"Take plenty of the dark purple solution", Tom offered, managnimously.
"This old pipe is rusty", said Tom, ironically.
"Scale keeps forming inside the kettle", complained Tom, recalcitrantly.


The compound HArF was recently reported. Why not make it with boron? (BArF)


The silicon put his neon the window ledge, climbed out and then krypton along the wall to meet his buddy. I hope the guard cesium before they argon!


These puns get boron real soon. We could branch out into minerals, of quartz. On second thought, how about a Heavy Metal thread? Discuss Van Helium, or some other (absorption) band. O dear, I believe I've lead you on.


Two atoms are walking down the street and they run in to each other. One says to the other, "Are you all right?" "No, I lost an electron!" "Are you sure?" "Yeah, I'm positive!"


Two chemists meet for the first time at a symposium. One is American, one is British. The British chemists asks the American chemist, "So what do you do for research?" The American responds, "Oh, I work with arsoles." The Brit responds, "Yes, sometimes my colleagues get on my nerves also."


What did the thermometer say to the graduated cylinder? "You may have graduated but I've got many degrees."


What do you get if you have Avogadro's number of donkeys? Molasses (a mole of asses).


What do you get if you react Calcium with Nitric Acid? Sodium Carbonate and Hydrogen:

2Ca  +  2HNO3  —>  2NaCO3  +  H2

     Check to see if it balances.


What do you get when you cross buckminsterfullerene, helicase, and ATP? Screwballs.


What is a cation afraid of? A dogion!


What is the most important thing to learn in chemistry? Never lick the spoon.


What kind of ghosts haunt chemistry faculties? Methylated Spirits.


What substance has the formula HIJKLMNO? Water.


Why did the employer force his employees to walk between high-voltage plates before entering the work place? Because he didn't want any unionized workers. [Am I missing something? Won't he get only unionized workers? The ionized workers will be sidelined, and presumably discharged.]


Why do chemists like nitrates so much? They're cheaper than day rates.


Why do white bears dissolve in water? Because they're polar.


Why does formic acid neutralize all other acids? Because it's an ant-acid!  [Formic acid is the venom in red ant stings.]


Why does hamburger have less energy than steak?  It’s in the ground state.



Daffy Definitions 1

Activation Energy, n. The useful quantity of energy available in one cup of coffee.


Additive, n. A chemical maliciously added to an otherwise natural product. (See Pure)


Atomic Theory, n. A mythological explanation of the nature of matter, first proposed by the ancient Greeks, and now thoroughly discredited by modern computer simulation. Attempts to verify the theory by modern computer simulation have failed. Instead, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that computer outputs depend upon the color of the programmer's eyes, or occasionally upon the month of his or her birth. This apparent astrological connection, at last, vindicates the alchemist's view of astrology as the mother of all science.


Bunsen Burner, n. A device invented by Robert Bunsen (1811-1899) for brewing coffee in the laboratory, thereby enabling the chemist to be poisoned without having to go all the way to the company cafeteria.


Butyl, n. An unpleasant-sounding word denoting an unpleasant-smelling alcohol.


CAI (acronym for Computer-Aided Instruction), n. The modern system of training professional scientists without ever exposing them to the hazards and expense of laboratory work. Graduates of CAI-based programs are very good at simulated research.


Cancer, n. Terminal disease brought on by chemicals.


Chemical Engineering, n. The practice of doing for a profit what an organic chemist only does for fun. (Compare Prostitution).


Chemical, n. A substance that: 1) An organic chemist turns into a foul odor; 2) an analytical chemist turns into a procedure; 3) a physical chemist turns into a straight line; 4) a biochemist turns into a helix; 5) a chemical engineer turns into a profit.


Chemical, n. Synthetic substance that is bad for you or the environment.


Chemicals, n. Noxious substances from which modern foods are made.


Chromatography, n. (From Gr. chromo "color" + graphos "writing") The practice of submitting manuscripts for publication with the original figures drawn in non-reproducing blue ink.


Clinical Testing, n. The use of humans as guinea pigs. (See also Pharmacology, Toxicology)


Compound, n. To make worse, as in: 1) A fracture; 2) the mutual adulteration of two or more elements.


Computer Resources, n. The major item of any budget, allowing for the acquisition of any capital equipment that is obsolete before the purchase request is released.


Detergents, n. What women do when telling a guy to take a hike.


Diglyceride, n. What you scream when you're trying to kill a glyceride.


Distillation, n. The scum also rises.


Drug, n. 1) A chemical with redeeming features. 2) A chemical with no redeeming features.


Eigen Function, n. The use to which an eigen is put.


En, n. The universal bidentate ligand used by coordination chemists. For years, efforts were made to use ethylenediamine for this purpose, but chemists were unable to squeeze all the letters between the corners of the octahedron diagram. The timely invention of en in 1947 revolutionized the science.


Environment, n. Recently discovered territory in urgent need of protection from pollutants.


Exhaustive Methylation, n. A marathon event in which the participants methylate until they drop from exhaustion.


First Order Reaction, n. The reaction that occurs first, not always the one desired. For example, the formation of brown gunk in an organic prep.


Flame Test, n. Trial by fire.


Friendly, adj. (as in dolphin-, ozone-, environment-, etc.) (of a product) Less harmful to dolphins, etc., than the previous formulation.


Genetic Engineering, n. A recent attempt to formalize what engineers have been doing informally all along.


Green, adj. (of a product) Containing fewer chemicals than it might; (general) conducive to feelings of ecological virtue or self-satisfaction.


Grignard, n. A fictitious class of compounds often found on organic exams and never in real life.


Harmless, approved, nonpolluting, safe, etc., adj. (of a chemical) Insufficiently investigated.


Inorganic Chemistry, n. That which is left over after the organic, analytical, and physical chemists get through picking over the periodic table.


Junk food, n. A mixture of additives.


Mercury, n. (from L. Mercurius, the swift messenger of the gods) Element No. 80, so named because of the speed of which one of its compounds (calomel, Hg2Cl2) goes through the human digestive tract. The element is perhaps misnamed, because the gods probably would not be pleased by the physiological message so delivered.


Monomer, n. One mer. (Compare Polymer)


Natural, adj. Extracted from the environment without the use of chemicals. (See Synthetic)


Natural Product, n. A substance that earns organic chemists fame and glory when they manage to synthesize it with great difficulty, while Nature gets no credit for making it with great ease.


Nitrate, n. Lower than the day rate.


Organic, adj. Church musician.


Organic Chemistry, n. The practice of transmuting vile substances into publications.


Partition Function, n. The function of a partition is to protect the lab supervisor from shrapnel produced in laboratory explosions.


Pharmacology, n. The use of rabbits and dogs as guinea pigs. (See also Clinical Testing, Toxicology)


Physical Chemistry, n. The pitiful attempt to apply y = mx + b to everything in the universe.


Pilot Plant, n. A modest facility used for confirming design errors before they are built into a costly, full-scale production facility.


Polar head group, n. Inuit psychiatrists.


Polymer, n. Many mers. (Compare Monomers)


Prelims, n. (From L. pre "before" + limbo "oblivion") An obligatory ritual practiced by graduate students just before the granting of a Ph.D. (if the gods are appeased) or an M.S. (if they aren't).


Publish or Perish, n. The imposed, involuntary choice between fame and oblivion, neither of which is handled gracefully by most faculty members.


Pure, adj. Containing no chemicals.


Quantum Mechanics, n. A crew kept on the payroll to repair quantums, which decay frequently to the ground state.


Rate Equations, verb phrase. To give a grade or a ranking to a formula based on its utility and applicability. Hy = Ey, for example, applies to everything everywhere, and therefore rates an A. pV = nRT, on the other hand, is good only for nonexistent gases and thus receives only a D+, but this grade can be changed to a B- if enough empirical virial coefficients are added.


Redox, n. Rusty cattle.


Research, n. That which I do for the benefit of humanity, you do for the money, he does to hog all the glory.


Schiff base, n. Stealing second.


Scientific Method, n. The widely held philosophy that a theory can never be proved, only disproved, and that all attempts to explain anything are therefore futile.


SI, n. Acronym for "Système Infernelle."


Spectrophotometry, n. A long word used mainly to intimidate freshman nonmajors.


Spectroscope, n. A disgusting-looking instrument used by medical specialists to probe and examine the spectrum.


Synthetic, adj. A nasty substitution for something natural.


Toxicology, n. The wholesale slaughter of white rats bred especially for that purpose. (See also Clinical Testing, Pharmacology)


Vitamin, n. Benevolent nonchemical substance found in natural footstuffs.


Waste, n. Mixture of pollutants. Requires the adjective "toxic." In a perfectly green world, no activity would produce any waste.


X-Ray Diffraction, n. An occupational disorder common among physicians, caused by reading X-ray pictures in darkened rooms for prolonged periods. The condition is readily cured by a greater reliance on blood chemistries; the lab results are just as inconclusive as the X-rays, but are easier to read.


Ytterbium, n. A rare and inconsequential element, named after the village of Ytterby, Sweden (not to be confused with Iturbi, the late pianist and film personality, who was actually Spanish, not Swedish). Ytterbium is used mainly to fill block 70 in the periodic table. Iturbi was used mainly to play Jane Powell's father.


Zinc, selenium, copper gluconate, beta-carotene, chromium, etc., n. 1) Benevolent ingredients of natural foodstuffs and diet supplements, conducive to heald. 2) Poisonous synthetic chemicals.


1 Most of these definitions are taken from the following sources:
     Ronald D. Butler, “The Ultimate Scientific Dictionary” (“The Last Word,” Chemtech, May, 1982)
     David Jones, “A Popular Chemical Glossary” (“The Last Word,” Chemtech, December, 1983)



Elementary Puns

What do you do with a dead chemist? Ba


What does a chemist do in a play? Ac


Where do you bury a dead chemist? Kr


What does a doctor do with a sick chemist? He (or Cm)


Where does a chemist put dirty dishes? Zn


What is a ship captain's least favorite element? Zinc


What does a steamroller do to a chemist? Pt


What did the cowboy chemist do with his horse? Rh


What did the cowboy chemist do with his calf? Eu


What is the Cowardly Lion's favorite element? Osmium


How do you describe a jailed chemist who's gone crazy? Si


What do you do if you can't swim? Zn


What does a dark cloud do?  U


What element doesn’t belong to you? Bi (i.e., none of your Bi)


What element is used to press clothes? Fe


What happens when someone steals the letter between Q and S? Ar


What two hafniums make: holmium


What weapon can you make from the Chemicals Potassium, Nickel and Iron? KNiFe.


Scary chemistry stories: “Tales From the Krypton.”


We hope your year is very phosphorous.


What ions are necessary for plant reproduction? PoO42- (polonate) and GeO32- (germinate)


The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, along with the Cobaltic States of Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Finland.


Have yourself a merry little bismuth.


Periodic table with gold missing: Au revoir


When everything is normal: it’s bismuth as usual.



From Bad To Verse

A mosquito was heard to complain
That a chemist had poisoned his brain
     The cause of his sorrow
     Was para-dichloro-
diphenyltrichloroethane.                         [Better known as DDT]



A Valentine that is Technically a Sonnet (by Lowell T. Christensen)
How do I love thee? Let me quantify the ways.
I loved thee when first I observed thy configuration,
And I jumped to an excited state.
Before I met thee, I was a free radical,
But thou has made me more stable.
I loved thy reaction when a jewel (joule?) I shocked thee with.
We bonded and are now at equilibrium in the combined state.
Thou makest me feel almost noble.
I love thee for the children thou hast generated,
Who daily prove the second law of thermodynamics.
I love thee this Valentine's Day, February 14,
Which incidentally is Jimmy Hoffa's birthday.
I tell thee how I love thee,
That our love may never be reduced.



I had a brand new beaker once.
     It's gone beyond recall.
For all the glass and pieces
     Are embedded in the wall.



Johnny, finding life a bore,
     Drank some H2SO4.
Johnny's father, an MD,
     Gave him CaCO3.
Now he's neutralized, it's true,
     But he's full of CO2.



Johnny saw some dynamite
     Couldn't understand it quite.
But curiosity never pays:
     It rained Johnny for seven days.



Little Willie from the mirror
     Licked the mercury off.
Thinking in his childish error
     It would cure his whooping cough.
At the funeral, Willie's mother
     Smartly said to Mrs. Brown
“’Twas a chilly day for Willie
     When the mercury went down.”



Little Willie was a chemist.
     Little Willie is no more.
For what he thought was H2O,
     Was H2SO4.



The Elements Song (Tom Lehrer)

     (sung to the tune of "A Modern Major 

     General" from The Pirates of Penzance)


There's antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,

And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium,

And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium,

And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium,

Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium,

And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium,

And gold, protactinium and indium and gallium,

And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium. 


There's yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium,

And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium,

And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,

And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium, and barium. 


There's holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium,

And phosphorus and francium and fluorine and terbium,

And manganese and mercury, molybdenum, magnesium,

Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium.

And lead, praseodymium, and platinum, plutonium,

Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium,

And tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium,

And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium. 


There's sulfur, californium, and fermium, berkelium,

And also mendelevium, einsteinium, nobelium,

And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc, and rhodium,

And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper, tungsten, tin, and sodium. 


These are the only ones of which the news has come to Ha'vard,

And there may be many others, but they haven't been discavard.



The professor talked much about Rhodium
And then he expounded on Sodium.
     His arms he did flail,
     Until he turned pale,
And then he fell off of the podium.



There once was a girl named Irene
Who lived on distilled kerosene
     But she started absorbin'
     A new hydrocarbon
And since then has never benzene.



To the tune of “Losing My Religion”
That's me in the acid
That's me in the test tube
Losing my electrons
Trying to keep my ions true
But I don't know if I can do it
Oh no this work's too tough
I didn't study enough
I thought that I saw it bubbling
I thought that I saw it burn
I think I thought I heard it pop



You Pb me to believe he's dead;
     I Zn he won't survive.
Ba in the ground, you fool,
     Do you Zn he's still alive?




Homogeneous Catalyst Heterogeneous Catalyst
Holstein Black Angus
Holstein Guernsey
Holstein Hereford
Holstein Holstein
Holstein Jersey
Holstein Texas Longhorn



How To Tell Chemists From Non-Chemists:
1. Ask them to describe a mole.
2. Ask them to pronounce the word "unionized."
3. Chemists wash their hands before going to the bathroom.



Reasons To Become A Chemist:
· All the coffee and pocket protectors you could want!
· Clark Kent style safety glasses.
· Permanent goggle marks are cheaper and less painful than tattoos.
· Exposure to all kinds of toxic and cancerous substances.
· Because it's pHun :)
· Access to 100% pure ethanol.
· Knowing how to completely dissolve the bodies of your enemies.
· You never have to worry about what you're doing on Friday night. (You're working in the lab.)
· You wish to be blamed for all faults in the environment. (Ditto for cancer.)



You know you weren't prepared for the exam when you gave the following definitions:
having the correct speakers for your CD player
     free radical: a political movement
     propane: sadomasochistic tendencies
     Grignard: a three foot mile
     periodic acid: sometimes it is and sometimes it ain't
     biotin: how much coffee you purchase
     prostate: when you want FSU to beat U. Florida in football
     helminth: what the hockey players wear on their heads, thilly
     IL-2: me also
     homology: the study of real estate
     membrane: the opposite of forgettin'



You Might Be a Chemist If ...
... you named your firstborn after one of the lanthanides, and then felt compelled to have more until you had the whole set.
... when you had an unexpected fifteenth child, you named him Actinium, and now you're not sure how to stop.
... you think that fresh air smells bad.
... you pronounce "unionized" with 4 syllables.
... you played with explosives as a kid, and still have all your fingers.



The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by investigators at a major U.S. research university. The element, tentatively named Administratium (Ad), has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice neutrons and 111 assistant vice neutrons, which gives it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by a force that involves the continuous exchange of meson-like particles called memos.
     Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically as it impedes every reaction it comes in contact with. According to the discoverers, a minute amount of administratium causes one reaction to take over four days to complete when it would have normally occurred in less than a second.
     Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice neutrons and assistant vice neutrons exchange places. Some studies have shown that the atomic mass actually increases after each reorganization.
     Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points such as government agencies, large corporations, and universities. It can usually be found in the newest, best appointed, and best maintained buildings.
     Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reaction where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.