A statistically improbable phrase (SIP) is a string of words having a low probability of being encountered in normal English discourse, and more importantly, in the use of computer searches for text or sales items.

Amazon added a search function called SIPs in mid-2005. New books have a list of associated SIPs so that subsequent searches can be quicker.

Dan Brown's recent bestseller, The Da Vinci Code, for example, has the following SIPs:

  • cilice belt
  • lame saint
  • seeded womb
  • lettered dials
  • corporal mortification
  • rosewood box
  • sacred feminine
  • royal bloodline
  • stone cylinder
  • sweater pocket

I first encountered SIPs when I did a search for A. Zee's Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell. (A page turner, trust me. *koff*) Its SIPs are a little less... vanilla, one might say:

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