One of the more amusing features added to recently is the inclusion, for many books, of SIPs: Statistically Improbable Phrases. As it is explained on the website:’s Statistically Improbable Phrases, or “SIPs”, show you the interesting, distinctive, or unlikely phrases that occur in the text of books in Search Inside the Book. Our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to how many times it occurs across all Search Inside books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

Just now I was looking at the page for an academic essay anthology called The New Economic Criticism: Studies at the Interface of Literature and Economics, and among the SIPs I found the following:

gold humbug, rentier culture, ersatz economics, scriptural money, imperial grammar, rhetorical tetrad, symbolic money, critical economists, economic genre, constitutive metaphors, ethical economy, universal equivalent, metaphorical field, novel machine, doing economics, realistic writing, economic discourse, feminist economists, general equivalent, hot pressure, beautiful shirts

Maybe I should leave this list to speak for itself. I don’t fined “general equivalent” or “doing economics” or even “feminist economists” to be all that surprising… but “beautiful shirts”?

One Response to “SIPs”


    Shaviro on Statistically Improbably Phrases is fun–a recent Amazon feature which Yanks have probably already noticed that outputs a list of uncommon phrases detected in the book you’re looking at. It’s basically an incredible way to waste an hour or t…