An attempt by a specialist to make incomprehensibletechnobabbleor other jargon comprehensible to the other characters. Usually this results in an explanation thats either insultingly vague or just as incomprehensible as the original. This often occurs as the result of another character saying something like,In English, please?
: This could be useful. Neutronium is incredibly dense.
How simple an explanation do you want?
A what? said Miles. Simplify, please.
Okay people, we are moving the astronauts over to the LEM. I want a power-up procedure, the essential hardware only. Weve got to get the guidance system transfered before theyre out of power in the Command Module.
Wait, wait! Imnot that smart. Tell me in laymans terms, please.
where a news reporter is interviewing a prominent scientist about a discovery that could change science forever! The conversation goes something like this:
does it, prompting Gibbs to say that hes starting to think McGee just cant help himself.
Venezuela, which is our country, has a lot of
: whenever someone is dumbfounded by some marketing or economics jargon (or, when Obelix is the one doing the talking, his complete mangling of it), they answer with a baffled Eh?, prompting the person talking to them to translate the sentence in aYou No Take Candlepidgin (Obelix eventually comes to think this is how businessmen talk). At the end of the book, this pattern becomes used whenever someone had trouble understanding something straight away.
, Twilight Sparkle gives aMagi Babble-heavy presentation on why theKaijuturned into native species when they entered Equestria and how they can change back. Destroyah manages to summarize it in one sentence.
, sooner or later someone will ask them to explain what they said again in human language. This happens almost all time when Misato and Ritsuko talk.
Hes been trying to figure out how the wizards work their spells, Mendenbar explained, but he hasnt done it yet.
… Ive been researching them [wizards] for years, trying to duplicate their methodology, but I still havent managed a workable solution.
movie, Ikaros, Nymph, and Astraea are fighting Hiyori when Hiyori suddenly stops and starts glowing. Nymph scans her and gives aTechnobabbleheavy summary of what is happening. Astraea, who isnormally very dumbunderstandsand translates,
: Now, the stick that youre holding, that is, I assume that… (Beat) Men, are you holding that stick? IS SOMEBODY HOLDING THAT STICK?! OVER!
answer: she presented her fellow Rangers with a delicacy from her gourmet cooking class, which looked like brownies. She referred to the secret ingredient as escargot. Which is French for snails. Cue the disgusting spit-out.
It means buckle your seatbelt,Dorothy,
Later, Egon uses a Twinkie to describe how severe the paranormal activity in New York City had become.
In later books, many of the more educated characters have tried to explain big thaumaturgical ideas to laymen; when one of those laymen offers up an analogy, the educated character notes that its a very useful metaphor that aids understanding while being completely inaccurate in every respect.
Ponder:Er. As a matter of fact you can, I think. Er. Shouldnt be too much of a problem. People used to think it was, but Im pretty sure its all a matter of energy absorption and attention to relative velocities.
Its a big silver ball. It gives us answers to things.
, when theBig Badforces Tim Allens character to tell to his alien friends that hes just a washed-up actor and not a hero (the aliens have no concept of lies or deceit, and as such thought his old TV show was a historical document)
Father Faces Life accuses an obstetrical term of being a euphemism:
Phil:You take an image of a person…
is that Bertie has to translate what Jeeves is saying for the benefit of one of hispals.
, Kyon often complains he doesnt understand what Yuki, Mikuru, or Koizumi mean with their technobabble, although they dont attempt to dumb it down. In the Drama CD Sound Around however, we have two scenes in which this happens.
do this all the time. If they dont do itOnce an Episode, it at least feels that way.
The term originally meant someone not a member of the clergy or the bar (i.e. a layman), because those professions actually
Im begging you, say that in laymans terms!
When Mattingly started talking Swigert through the abbreviated power-up procedure for the Command Module:
: Hes got to heat the cube to a hundred and twenty million Kelvin just to break through the Coulomb barrier.
Billy doesnt want to dance just to attract girls.
When Lovell first powered up the Lunar Module, and tried to steer it:
Jupiter: Yeah, I heard gravity and surf.
Lister:The stasis room freezes time, you know, makes time stand still. So whenever you have a leak, it must preserve whatever its leaked into, and its leaked into this room.
Well, fuck laymans terms! Do you speak English?
Uh … theres an awful lot of condensation on this panel. Whatre the chances of this shorting out?
Not that the Scoobies cant do it themselves, given thatGilesis around.
No offense, but the math Im using is so complicated I dont know if I can dumb it down enough for it to make sense.
: Yes, Xander,once again youve managed to boil a complex thought down to its simplest possible form.
Reddit now has a subreddit calledExplain Like Im Five
, as Bugs Bunny tries to explain the whole situation to Michael Jordan.
CompareExpospeak Gag, where the incomprehensible technobabble was itself an obfuscated version of something straightforward, andSophisticated as Hell. See alsoPhlebotinum Analogy. The next step after this isBuffy Speak, where the character either cant think of the proper term or cant think of a good Laymans Terms explanation and resorts to referring to things and stuff.
. After telling Spike of every system thats gone down thanks to a virus, Spike requests it in terms he understands, and gets this from Ed:
When he discovers a Time Portal to France.
who talks to Gibbs and reports some sort of evidence.
: *smiles as if to say Thank God I dont have to waste time explaining!*
Oscar is trying to explain to Michael why they should use up their budget surplus. Michael asks for Oscar to explain it as he would to an eight-year-old. Oscar
Its six thousand miles! Everyone knows you cant get that far by magic.
Homer:Spare me your medical mumbo-jumbo.
Youre going to need open-heart surgery.
, Fowler orders the chickens pedaling to power The Crate (the chickens flying machine) to increase velocity.
Oh man, you dropped your transmission.
Well, thats thats difficult to its all math…
Yuki:Antimatter-dispersing oscillations perceived as sound waves.
AfterCeltic folk hero Cu Chulainnand his future wife Emerflirt in the nerdiest, most convoluted conversation ever, Cu Chulainn has to take his charioteer Loeg aside and translate to him what exactly they were saying between all the riddles and obscure references. The explanation is twice as long as the conversation itself.
, Atom is having trouble understanding the lyrics tothe groups new song, so Rui tries to explain it to him – in complex scientific terms, about hormones and chemistry. Atom asks him this, and his second attempt is still incomprehensible. (Atoms solution? Singing this song requires his lucky underwear!)
Its like flying with a dead elephant on our back.
Nihiliphobia, the fear of nothingness. Or in laymans terms, the fear of…nothingness.
(The car wont start when theyre trying to make a getaway after a prank)
manage to rememberit in the future. Of course, Abby and Ducky are Gibbs closest friends and knowingly enjoy teasing him like this, McGees continually being flustered by Gibbs into retreating behind his protective wall of technobabble is his own particular running gag, and Tony and Ziva overlap in fields of expertise with Gibbs so he doesnt really need laymans terms with them. McGees inability to stop doing this to Gibbs isLampshadedin a season five episode when Tony bets twenty dollars that hes about to say something nobody else understands again, and McGee
: Brought up to eleven with Holly Holidays method of teaching. She sometimes resorts to song (such as using aJoan Jettsong to teach sex ed), teaching Spanish grammar with sentences about Lindsey Lohans rehab or playing out Mary Todd Lincolns bipolar rants in history class.
I mean how fast things are going when compared to other things.
Trini was usually the one who translated it into plain English.
Im not embarrassed to say, this is helping.
: Newtons law of universal gravitation states that every point mass in the universe attracts every other point mass with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. And thats a bit like this packet of Smints.
: Dr. Chris explainsThis is a quantum-mechanical expansion mechanism that can revert the ship to the submolecular state.As the crew gives him blank stares, theFuture!Dr. Chrisadds: A bomb.
breaks it down into an analogy, comparing the budget to money given to a child for a lemonade stand. At the end of Oscars analogy, Michael can only respond, Explain it to me like Im
. After Max drives the big rig into the compound, their mechanic looks it over and relays a long list of mechanical faults which are promptly shouted up to Pappagallo.
Rimmer:Its a rent in the space-time continuum.
cast in response toMarshall: IN ENGLISH, MARSHALL!
That, gentlemen, is a bioengineered apoptotic prokaryote. Or so I have reconstructed it.
Calvin:I make the robots seem more human.
What happens is that when the baby gets ready to leave the uterus, the woman goes through a series of what the medical community laughingly refers to as contractions. If it referred to them as horrible pains that make you wonder why the hell you ever decided to get pregnant, people might stop having babies and the medical community would have to go into the major-appliance business.
The Doctors complete inability to explaintime travel theory, despite his best efforts, including This is my Timey-Wimey Detector. It goes ding when theres stuff,
Cause… Grahams on holiday and Chung-Yao is dead…
When the scientists are involved in
In The Return of Doctor Mysterio The Doctor actually fails at this. He tells a young Grant, To put this in terms you can understand [Beat] Sorry, there arent any.
It appears to run on…some form of electricity.
Lister:Its a hole back into the past.
. Anything Reid has to say will almost always be technobabble mixed with obscure literary references, to the point that the other agents sometimes stop asking him to explain. He just launches into the simpler definition right after, which in itself isnt that simple.
A subversion from the penultimate episode:
use terms people outside wouldnt understand, either because theyre obscure words that only exist in that context, or because even common words in legalese can have very specific meanings and connotations not found in general English.
That thing, is it trapped for good on video?
Here in South Florida we have a special name for this kind of spider: We call it a spider the size of Harold C. Crittenden Junior High School, although its technical Latin name is
The Doctor:Hope so. But just to be on the safe side though, Ill use my unrivalled knowledge of trans-temporal extrapolation methods to neutralise the residual electronic pattern.
One of the language options forThe Other Wikiis Simple English. This can be helpful for some of the more obscure topics – since articles on, say, advanced mathematics only get edited by people who already understand them, they tend to drift inexorably into impenetrable jargon. Or if you prefer, the words get harder.
The multiverse probability fluctuation is controlled by them. While shifting through spacetime, they will approach and attack.
So, Dr. Calvin, what exactly do you do around here?
Despite being told this roughly once per episode, his co-workers
Kozumi occasionally translates for Yuki, as her technobabble is even more obtuse than his.
Inverted and then played straight in the same conversation in
: When Dr Mann finally cracks how Yorick survived theGendercide, he has to ask her to dumb theTechnobabbledown about a thousand percent, since he once nearly blew off one of his testicles with a baking soda volcano.
Ray, pretend for a moment that I dont know anything about metallurgy, engineering, or physics, and just tell me what the hell is going on.
: This became Spikes gimmick during the gangs expository speeches (on both shows).
Homer:Could you dumb it down a shade?The Simpsons, Homers Triple Bypass
: Explain it like youd explain it to a small child. But I was, dear. This can get annoying on
Okay, somebody explain the whole he will suck the world into hell thing, because thats the part Im not loving.
, anthropology student Claire explains her behavior to Ozzie in the rec
In Day of the Daleks, when the Third Doctor breaks the future soldiers portable time machine:
Kagami usually asksKonatato talk in normal human language, not in geek language.
. Penny, who is of roughly average intelligence, often has trouble understanding the extremely confusing scientific conversations going on between Leonard and his friends. Often times, when they try to repeat it in what they call laymans terms, it is still horribly confusing.
Dr. Weir:Right. Well, um, using laymans terms…we use a rotating magnetic field to focus a narrow beam of gravitons. These, in turn, fold space-time consistent with Weyl tensor dynamics until the space-time curvature becomes infinitely large, and you produce a singularity. Now, the singularity…
: This is Peter Bishops actual job description: To translate Walter Bishops scientific jargon into something everyone else can understand. Of course, since Walter is an insane genius who tends to mix hisTechnobabblewith musings on the homemade psychodelic drugs hes currently taking, what food hes craving at the moment, and random events from Peters childhood, the translation is a bit more necessary than usual.
, the fish in the tank try to formally initiate Nemo into their gang with a faux-native ceremony.
Played with brilliantly in Doppelganger, when Gibbs needs to talk to a bunch of techno geeks. He brings McGee along to translate their technobabble into laymans terms, and McGee also has to translate his laymans terms back into technobabble.
: Does Loki need any particular kind of power source?
confusing. This predictable behavior islampshadedat one point when the agent prompts him for the analogy: Think of it as a… In later seasons, the agents are just as likely to go Wait! I know this one! and trot out the totally inadequate analogy themselves. Then again, you try explaining graduate level math concepts like FloydWarshall algorithm or K-optimal pattern discovery in under 30 seconds.
Antimatter-dispersing oscillations perceived as sound waves.
, Nathan often interrupts Caleb and tells him forget about technical language, urging him to instead describe his opinions in the simplest way possible. Ironically he wants this mostly for Calebs benefit and because of his own preference for directness. He can understand Calebs jargon perfectly well; it just makes him impatient to have to beat around the bush.
; since the Clever Stuff is genuine Clever Stuff and not just, the comedic baffled layman reaction from Alan Davies sometimes interrupts and kills off an explanation some of us might like to have heard all of.
Stock Phrase(In English, please, Jase), when Jason describes a technology as molecular autocatalytic feedback loops, basically, with contingent programming written into their reproductive protocols.
: Mac theHacketteis often asked to dumb down her Technobabble to more comprehensible English for Veronica and sometimes Keith.
Averted in Bliss where theMonster of the Weekis a giant space creature thatswallows Voyager.The solution involves making the creature vomit them up, butfor some reason this simple analogy is avoided.
, where Dr. Spaceman reads off the results of a test, and then says: Now in laymans terms… what do you think that means?
, mostly said by Booth, Cam, or Angela to the squints (or more scientific squints). However, since the squints all have different specialties, they normally need to explain things more simply to begin with.
books, this shows up on occasion. Usually its Ponder who has to simplify things so that the older wizards will understand them.
, where Captain Jack Harkness refuses to avoid technobabble claiming its good for the soul. Tosh still explains things sometimes to Gwen, as her background is in law enforcement not science.
In your terms, Brigadier, the things blown a fuse!
is Ward not understanding what Fitz and Simmons are saying and asking for it in English.
Can you put that in English, for those of us who dont speak spy?
, a Venezuelan delegation visits Pawnee, and spends the whole trip announcing how sad and underfunded the parks are. When Leslie asks about where their funding comes from, their leader explains it in the most patronizingLaymans Termspossible.
, quite darkly. Whenbreaks down irreversibly, the narrator, who is the head computer tech, is called into a heads-will-roll court to explain himself. He tries… and fails, because he literally cannot explain the inner workings of the AI without resorting to the highly technical jargon only comprehensible to AI techs. When he tries, he only succeeds in muddling his analogies so badly, he loses track of what he was trying to say.
Ridcully:My mother could move like lightning when
, speaks entirely in technobabble (orMagi Babble, rather). He briefly succeeds in speaking plain English when threatened with immediate bodily harm, but the effort costs him much. He even has trouble with Those stairs only go down. Another example:
Nemo, newcomer of orange and white, you have been called forth to the summit of Mt. Wannahockaloogie to join with us in the fraternal bonds of tankhood!
Be careful. The enemy is using a random Schrdinger warp to approach.
Haise:Its not designed to fly attached like this, the center of gravitys in the command module!
: (understanding instantly) Sam, we are geniuses!
Rimmer and Lister take it in turn to try to explain a stasis leak to Cat:
Can you just briefly take us through this new theory of yours, in laymans terms?
has several moments where, after the astronauts and mission-controllers explain the situation to each other in their own jargon, they repeat it in simpler terms for the sake of the audience usually in the form of an analogy.
Look, its classic battle strategy to throw ones opponent off his game. Hes trying to provoke you. To taunt you. To goad you into some mishap of some sort.
He has anincreased metabolism and improved thermal homeostasis, while she hasneuro-electric interfacingtelekinesisandmental manipulation.
Telemain, the theoretical magician fromPatricia C. Wredes
, when Tony Stark is delighted to be able to speakTechno Babblewith Bruce Banner, much to the bemusement of Captain America.
. Neo likely understood the words in a computing context, being a hacker, but outside that had trouble figuring out where they would apply.
, when J and K are facing down the (Edgar-piloted) UFO, K rattles off a string of technical requirements. When J asks him to explain, K says, Just
Oh, I see what it is; the temporal feedback circuits overloaded.
In cases ofTechnology Marches Onor an improper assumption ofViewers Are Morons, this can lead to a reasonable explanation followed by an inane, overly simplified explanation of a concept that was already understood on the first try. Depending upon the setting, it may also lead the audience to assume different things about characters that ought to know better: for example, explaining basic or advanced physics to space-faring humans like such topics wouldnt have been required reading already.
Dr. Hibbert: Were going to cut you open and tinker with your ticker.
Kyon:Please, could you make it so I can understand what youre saying?
Leeron tries to explain to the heroes how sexual reproduction facilitates adaptation and evolution, and gets nowhere. They all get In other words, love 3 makes the world go round, though.
, Mrs Whatsit usesthe example of an ant crossing two corners of a folded piece of fabricto explain to the children how tessering through space works.
You see, these aliens come from outer space and they want to make us slaves in their theme park. Ehh, what do we care? Theyre little. So we challenged them to a basketball game. But then, they show up and they aint so little! Theyre HUGE! We need to beat these guys! Cause theyre talkin about slavery! Theyre gonna make us do stand-up comedy! The same jokes every night for all eternity! Were gonna be locked up like wild animals and then trotted out to perform for a bunch of lowbrow, bug-eyed, fat-headed, humor-challenged aliens! Uh, what Im trying to say is…
Giles:Well, the demon universe exists in a dimension separate from our own, and with one breath of Acathla will create a vortex, a kind of whirlpool that will pull everything on earth into that dimension, where any non-demon life will suffer horrible and… eternal torment.
MC Bat Commander:Speak English, robot, English!
Rock Star physicist Brian Cox explains the universe this way. Its parodied on BBC Radio 4s
: What stick? Oh, the wheel! Im holding it.
Mal:I need that in Captain Dummy talk, Kaylee.
So that would be the literal kind of sucked into hell. Neat.
Spooner:So…whatexactly do you do around here?
: Yeah, the aligned carbon-14 allows hyperdense cubit storage in an optical quantum processor… diamonds can store tons of data and transmit it super-fast.
Xander:Thenyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!approach to battle?
Happens in the (fake) sixth season trailer of
During a meeting of the world leaders, the magical characters like Queen Elizard report how Othinus is having her organization GREMLIN construct the sacred spear Gungnir, and how this would be very bad if they succeed. President Roberto Katze doesnt really get their explanation, but decides to think of Gungnir like a nuclear bomb: once the enemy completes and uses it, game over.
Dont know. Made it up. Didnt want to say Magic Door.
Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink.
. Once an episode, Charlie or one of his colleagues references an obscure mathematical concept that can be used to help solve a case, then creates an analogy to make it understandable. A real mathematician would probably be insulted to hear these concepts and theorems dumbed down to such a level. And theyre
This, however, gets subverted whenSamantha Cartergets command of Atlantis:
. Flynns morpher malfunctions and Dr. K tells him what happened. When he asks her to say it again in Laymens Terms, she responds That
Oh, a magic door! Well, why didnt you say?
: Finally, someone who speaks English.
: Sandstroms favorite method of teaching advanced virology involves a vulgar pun and expressive wiggling of his fingers.
The lunar module just became a lifeboat.
would sometimes use complicated dialogue to make his point.
Ina season 2 episode, Weevil is so tired of Beavers lack of ability to explain math in Laymans terms, he ironically asks Mac to tutor him, which surprisingly works out fine.
One quote shows why this might be the case.
When Mission Control decided that the Command Module had to be shut down:
The Web Badge of Courage gives the laymans explanation first, then subverts the trope by following it with a not really scientific name:
Rimmer:Its singularity, a point in the universe where the normal laws of space and time dont apply.
Hey, how come Buffy doesnt get a snotty once again you boil it down to the simplest form thing?Watchers Pet!
, being about a town full ofbrilliant scientistswhospeak like, well, brilliant scientists… andJack Carter. For example:
The computers kaput, and were drifting through space towards certain oblivion.
(translation: the Mugann canattack them from any point in the universe and from any point in the past or future)
Novel quantum effects in low-temperature quasi-zero dimensional mesoscopic electron systems
Not that simplified, said Miles dryly.
Middleman:The High Energy Yield Data Accumulation Resource. In technical terms, its a global analysis and information-gathering device capable of performing both onboard evidence analysis as well as universal intelligence searches across all data platforms.
Modell psyched the guy out, he put the whammy on him!
: Well, if he could do that he could achieve Heavy Ion Fusion at any reactor on the planet.
Mattingly:Well just have to deal with that if it happens.
(Beat) Okay, tell me a little more than that.
Im not interested in engaging feminine attention through bodily gyration.
After trapping The Wire on a cassette tape:
Weddell flashed a pained smile, doubtless searching his mind for words of one syllable. Miles regretted his last four beers. A little bug that eats things, Weddell essayed, by way of further translation.
Faraday:The Island… think of the Island like a record spinning on a turntable… only now, that record is skipping. Whatever Ben Linus did down at the Orchid station… I think… it may have… dislodged us.
: I didnt know they, uh, used diamonds in computers.
Calvin:My general fields are advanced robotics and psychiatry, although I specialize in hardware-to-wetware interfaces, in an effort to advance USRs robotic anthropomorphization program.
We really do not have time for me to try to explain. You have no idea how difficult that would be for me to try to explain this this phenomenon to a quantum physicist. That would be difficult, so for me to try to explain whatever is happening
Jeremy, tell me whats happening in Chattanooga. Tell me quickly, tell me succinctly. Bullet points. Were on the air in less than two minutes, so dont give me a valedictory address. Talk to me as if Im a small child. Tell me whats happening in Chattanooga.
I dont know whats happening in Chattanooga.
has figured out how to stabilize the quantum tunneling effect.
is a famous example of presenting science to the casual viewer in a comprehensible way, as well as its successorNeil Degrasse Tysons
Take a look at the panel and tell me what you see.
. Spoofed in theShow Within a Show, where the atomic scientist keeps explaining mundane terms like magnified or accelerated.
Spooner:Now wasnt that easier to say?
And from Future Echoes (and also the first American pilot):
Often exaggerated to the point ofFlanderizationwhen Carter needs aLaymans Termsexplanation of terms that should be common knowledge to anyone with a high school education, let alone a U.S. Marshal.
Its low energy, Commander. Your blood sugar levels have dipped dangerously low.
Defied- byThe Ditz, of all people – in
The pill you took is part of a trace program. Its designed to interrupt your input-output carrier signal so that we can keep track of your location.
, Witch Girl tries to relay the Crimson Scholars plan to create a Smallpox vaccine, but the listeners ask her to speak plainly.
Catalyzer on the port compression coil blew. Thats where the trouble started.
Wh-whats going on? Were not moving!
: Explain it to him, as you would a child.
This sketch becomes so much better if you know that Ben Miller, who plays the scientist, was working on a Ph.D. thesis called
Lordgenome either doesnt know what this term means or cant explain any simpler.
Touma Kamijou often gets annoyed when others speakMagi BabbleorTechno Babble, but the others dont usually dumb it down for him. He is sometimes able to come up with metaphors to better understand some of their terms.
Please explain to me the scientific nature of the Whammy.
Lem:We take bovine cells, and surrounding them with a bed of rich nutrients, grow them into fully developed cow tissue or beef.
Some of our viewers are quite smart. Perhaps there is someone watching at the moment whos capable of understanding your theory?
What? said Cimorene, looking puzzled.
Inverted in Eye of the Needle, the Doctor gives Kes a series of medical texts to study, but warns her that they are very technical and not written for the layman.
Its like driving a toaster through a carwash.
Rimmer:Um, so Lister can understand it.
: The U.S.S. Portland is a Seawolf-class, or big, nuclear submarine…
, it usually falls toNodwickto translate things said byArthax(or other intelligent beings) into termsYeagarcan understand. He usually does this in the most patronizing ways he can as hes not very fond of Yeagar. Arthax occasionally does this himself, with equal amounts of snark but slightly less patronizing.