I'm told that the word 'factoid' was a creation of the great (or not-so-great, depending on your point of view) Norman Mailer, who supposedly wrote that 'factoids are... facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority.'

The etymology of the word makes sense - the word 'oid', according to Merriam-Webster, means 'something resembling a (specified) object or having a (specified) quality'. A factoid swims, waddles, and quacks like a fact, but it ain't a fact, no matter who tries to tell you otherwise. It's a commonly accepted falsehood, a sound-bite myth. Or, more eloquently, from Mailer again : A factoid isn't a fact, but it damn well should be.

CNN's definition of factoid (seeming to mean 'interesting statistic') is wrong, but not for long; CNN's definition is becoming the accepted definition. It's not the correct meaning, but it just sounds right... making the meaning of the word itself a factoid.

And then that brings up the question of whether or not my quotes above are accurate in the least. I didn't bother to go to the library to find the book (titled 'Marilyn') where Mailer created the word, Burgess-like, so I might be propogating another falsehood, another factoid.