Snopestionary: What Does 'Glurge' Mean?

The term "glurge" has been with us since the mid-1990s.

Published Aug. 21, 2021

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Speak like an insider! Welcome to Snopestionary, where we’ll define a term or piece of fact-checking lingo that we use on the Snopes team. Have a term you want us to explain? Let us know.

Glurge: A sentimental or heart-rending story that undermines its own inspirational message by distorting -- or ignoring -- the facts. The name was inspired by the often saccharine storytelling style employed in these tales.

"Think of it as chicken soup with several cups of sugar mixed in," we wrote in the introduction to our bursting-at-the-seams Glurge Gallery. "It’s supposed to be a method of delivering a remedy for what ails you by adding sweetening to make the cure more appealing, but the result is more often a sickly-sweet concoction that induces hyperglycemic fits."

The stories tend to revolve around larger-than-life acts of heroism, self-sacrifice, divine intervention/inspiration, comeuppance, salvation, and moments of epiphany. Nearly all of them are meant to be life lessons of one sort or another, such as this homespun tale about a supposed encounter with a billionaire celebrity:

BILL GATES in a restaurant.

After eating, he gave $5 to the waiter as a tip. The waiter had a strange look on his face after the tip, Gates realized, and asked the waiter what had happened.

The waiter replied, “I’m just amazed because on the same table your son gave a tip of $500, but you, his father, the richest man in the world, only gave me $5.”

Gates smiled and replied with meaningful words: “He is Son of the world’s richest man, but I am the son of a wood cutter…”

(Never Forget Your Past. It’s Your Best Teacher)

We note that Bill Gates' son, Rory, would have only been 12 years old when this glurge first began popping up in Snopes' inbox, so it's unlikely he was handing out $500 tips to waiters at that time. Moreover, there are variants of the story predating Bill Gates himself, including one told about John D. Rockefeller.

Fun fact: The term "glurge" was coined back in the ’90s by a member of the original Snopes message board.

Bond Huberman is a former editor for Snopes.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.

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