Interesting and Unusual Words: “Riboflavin”

By Matt Vicker

“Riboflavin”

As I was casually navigating Empire Magazine’s website, I came across the ‘How much is a pint of milk?’ interview with Simon Pegg. One of the standard questions in this interview is ‘What is your favourite word?’. Pegg responded with “riboflavin” with the justification that “It’s an ingredient in Weetabix.”. It has a great stand-out quality to it, and it seems to be a rather strange combination of phonemes to first-time hearers of the word. I had vaguely heard of the word before, although I can’t quite pinpoint where…

I’m sure it will come to me at some point (perhaps it was from reading the Weetabix ingredients list!). For those among you who aren’t biochemists, the OED defines ‘riboflavin’ as “Vitamin B2; a yellow flavin with a ribityl side chain, essential for metabolic energy production and cellular respiration.”. Of course I’m sure most of you knew that already. If nothing else, ‘riboflavin’ is just really fun to say. Riboflavin.

The Empire interview with Peggy: http://www.empireonline.com/interviews/interview.asp?IID=1142

The OED entry for ‘riboflavin’: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/165502?redirectedFrom=Riboflavin#eid

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