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Shouting distance is, unsurprisingly, the distance that a person's shout can carry. Colloquially, it is the distance that embarrassing rumours can be communicated with a single inspired burst of vocal communication. As in, "right away, everybody within shouting distance knew that Johnny had the Clap." The distance varies with the lung power of the shouter and many circumstances of the environment. On the one hand, a mere shout-out can be spoken very quietly and yet still reach all the way around the planet, if it is said into a microphone during a TV broadcast. For untelevised events, and those otherwise lacking in electronic enhancement a shout let out on the bank of a body of calm water will carry much farther than over land, possibly for miles. This is because of the fundamental nature of sound, as a vibration of particles in the air that gets more diffuse (and therefore harder to make out) over distance, especially when other sounds interfere with that vibration. Over still water, the vibrations are reflected, rather than being absorbed. It also surely helps for the shouter to have the big lungs of an opera diva. Even the loudest shouter may not be able to cover more than ten feet if shouting in a crowded dance club, or at a rock concert (where everyone is already shouting).

Shouting distance also increases with the acuteness of the hearing of the person the shout is directed to. You can add a pretty big multiplier if the recipient of your shout is a wolf (or the wolf's often friendly little cousin, the dog). Wolves can hear each other howl from tens of miles away. One wonders whether, in those howls, they are transmitting some blushworthy tidbits about their fellows. As in, "right away, everybody within shouting distance knew that Balto had fleas."

The world champions for shouting distance, though, are blue whales, whose whale song can carry for hundreds of miles. To be fair, their lungs are as big as some of our houses, and we are not nearly as good at singing underwater. And right away, all the whales within shouting distance know that Orca tried to mate with an oil tanker.

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