Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Google uses the phrase "Whale fail" on this picture (from their error page):

Google Books "whale fail" image, Captain Ahab dejected at finding a green whale

What does it mean?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 21 down vote accepted

It's a reference to the Twitter "fail whale", integrating a Google-Books-appropriate collateral reference to Moby Dick. (It appears that Captain Ahab is dejected because the whale in front of him is green, not white; his search for the white whale has suffered a case of "whale fail".) This is all related to the fairly recent, Internet-driven nouning of the verb "fail".

It doesn't actually mean anything other than that your Web request failed.

share|improve this answer
3  
"I wonder if it'll be friendly." –  TRiG Jun 24 '11 at 22:50

The term "whale fail" or "fail whale" is in common usage to denote a failure of substantially vast proportion. See the Urban Dictionary entry for whale fail.

Similar phrases are "Epic fail", "Failtastic" and "All aboard the fail boat".

A known variant of the fail whale, the "red fail whale" also appears as an indication of a network connection failure in the popular Twitter client DestroyTwitter.

share|improve this answer

protected by RegDwigнt May 9 '11 at 1:06

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.