7 8 9

Every nerd has, at some point, heard the following “math joke:”

Q: Why was 6 afraid of 7?

A: Because 7 8 9.

See, it’s funny because, on the one hand, “7 8 9” is part of the well-known arithmetic sequence of integers, whereas on the other hand it sounds like “7 ate 9,” suggesting that 7 hides nightmarish cannibalistic tendencies of which 6 is horrifying aware.

Of course, by funny I mean not really funny after, say, second grade (the Ladybug thinks it’s a riot, for example), but it has nevertheless spawned a number of spin-off jokes, such as

Q: Why was 6 afraid of 7?

A: Because 7 was a registered 6 offender.

which is the equally terrible, on grounds of both paronomasia and taste.

Here are a few more variations on this wearied gag, all of which are similarly nerdy and some of which are even funny. There’s the Grecophile version:

Q: Why was varepsilon afraid of zeta?

A: Because zeta , eta , theta.

There’s the Whovian version:

Q: Why was McCoy scared of McGann?

A: Because McGann Hurt Eccleston.

There’s the version in which we change base:

Q: Why isn’t 6 afraid of 7 in octal?

A: Because 7 10 11.

There’s the anti-joke version:

And, finally, the pop culture one:

Q: Why was 6 afraid of 7?

A: Because he looked in the box.

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