Are You a Bromide? Find out with These Three Easy Questions!

1. Which of the following would you most likely want to form a bond with?
a.) Aluminum
b.) A Texas Carbon
c.) Texas
d.) Probably someone who is both reliable and interesting

2. Do you care about culture or the arts?
a.) Nah.
b.) Yeah!

3. Have you ever wanted to attack a primary carbon attached to an ideal leaving group?
a.) Of course.
b.) No way!

If you answered “a” to all of those questions, Congratulations, you are a bromide!

Though we commonly refer to “bromide” as the ionic form of bromine, in 1906, Artist Gelett Burgess used the word “bromide” in his essay “Are you a Bromide?” to refer to the unsophisticated group of people inferior to the classy Sulfites. A bromide is staunch in his or her mundanely habitual lifestyle with little to no appreciation of culture or arts. They also enjoy their cliché, trite phrases and sayings. But worry not of any hostility or war between the two groups. Burgess insists that there should be peaceful understanding between the Bromides and Sulfites of  Bromides and Sulfites.

Sulphite, sulfite…it’s all the same to a bromide.

The word “bromide” came from the use of bromide salts (like Bromo-Seltzer) for sedatives and tranquilizers. The bromides, with “no salt nor spice nor savor“, very much represent this scientific use. Instead of thinking for yourself and expressing yourself like a Sulphite would, the bromide represents the clichés of the commoners of his time. Some things bromides would often say would be:

Now, this thing really happened!”

Funny how people always confide their love-affairs to me!”

Don’t worry; that won’t help matters any.”


Burgess’ essay isn’t meant to be taken completely seriously (nor is this blog post), but I thought it was cool to use a chemistry word to describe a group of people. Maybe more relevantly, we should pay attention to the common language we use to describe things, and what that says about us. Though “bromide” isn’t commonly used anymore, we have Urban Dictionary, Twitter and other ways of understanding the underlying meaning of our oft-repeated rhetoric. You might think that “smart” means “an essay you agree with” or that “Africa” means “Poor. But Happy.”

If we don’t understand, we’ll keep on saying, repeating and changing phrases until we have forgotten how to think. By that point, we will have embraced “bromide” as a new word to refer to our colleagues.

“Hey, bromide, what’s going on?”

“My bromides lookin’ fresh!”


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