I've just read the O'Reilly book Getting Started with Storm and encoutered the word randomically. I highly suspect this is a made up word, but a quick google found it in use here, here, and here. Is this some obscure technical term perhaps? Or is it a case of a covergent devolution of English?

I don’t think this is a misspelling, as they (authors of the book) use the word randomly in a previous sentence (emphasis mine):

Shuffle Grouping is the most commonly used grouping. It takes a single parameter (the source component) and sends each tuple emitted by the source to a randomly chosen bolt warranting that each consumer will receive the same number of tuples.

The shuffle grouping is useful for doing atomic operations such as a math operation. However, if the operation can’t be randomically distributed, such as the example in Chapter 2 where you needed to count words, you should consider the use of other grouping.

Did they intend it to mean something else? If so, what is that other meaning?

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    @ΜετάEd because it can't be found in general sources (some of which I checked), it's general reference? Since when was lack of evidence proof? Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:29
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    Unfortunately, all you have proved by your edit is that the word is not systematically misspelled throughout the book. Sometimes a copyeditor lets one get by them.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:29
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    A bona fide technical term would have shown up in at least one technical work in the Google Books corpus. That's not absence of evidence: that's evidence of absence. There's an interesting statistical concept that applies here called "prior probability": counterintuitive but very useful.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:31
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    Your excerpt reads "randomically distributed, such as the example in Chapter 2". If you refer to Chapter 2 for the example, you will find it described "in randomly distributed fashion". It's not clear to me why your question does not mention this or take it into account.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:47
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    @ΜετάEd and everyone else jumping on the General Reference bandwagon: since when is a fairly complex corpus search a "single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information"? You did some research and came to a conclusion based on it; congratulations, now go post it as an answer already!
    – Marthaª
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 18:33

4 Answers 4


Where the authors of the book wrote randomically, they meant randomly and in fact intended to write randomly. This is demonstrably true.

  1. Randomically is not a word known to specialists and having a technical meaning (even an obscure one), because nobody is using it in published works – it is not found anywhere in the Google Books corpus (see: Google Ngram Viewer), nor has any lexicographer discovered the word and included it in a dictionary (see: OneLook).

  2. It is not a term coined by the authors of the book, or they would have defined it.

  3. The one place where it is used in the book (in Chapter 3 – see the excerpt in the question) refers to an example in Chapter 2, but there the example is described “in randomly distributed fashion”.

  4. Jonathan Leibiusky (co-author) and one of the editors at O’Reilly have just sent me a nice thank-you note for reporting the error.

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    +1 for Word of God from me, too, but don't you think that's further evidence that this question is in no way, shape, or form "general reference"?
    – Marthaª
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 18:36
  • @Marthaª No, just a form of absolute confirmation that addresses the OP's lingering doubts. I feel the lack of any entries in dictionaries searched by OneLook (my point 1) was more than enough; the OP seemed to need several more nails driven in before acknowledging the existence of a coffin. :-)
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 19:20
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    #4 on its own is a sufficient reason, unless we had reason to doubt the statement by those involved in the production of the book. :-) That said, #1-3 are great examples of how we would deduce the answer on our own had an authoritative source not been available to answer the question.
    – M. Justin
    Commented Nov 19, 2020 at 7:10

Based on the 66 results on Google Books, this is simply a misspelling made by – and this is an educated guess – non-native speakers of English. The candidates on the first couple of pages of the ~15000 results that randomically returns on Google are also of a similar nature. The authors of the book that you're reading fall into the same category.

So, no, it’s not an obscure technical term. It’s also not devolution of English. It’s just a relatively obscure misspelling.

  • I don't think it's a mispelling, see my edit. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:29
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    I reckon it's a glowing indictment of O'Reilly's editing.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:33
  • @Pureferret Well noted. But that could simply be an editor missing a spot :) If you look at the Books results, you'll find that there are many instances where the authors have used "randomically chosen" unlike in your provided example. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:34
  • What I don't get is why "randomically" in quotes starts by saying "about 65 results", and peters out at 28 entries. But your version without quotes starts with "about 80 results", and peters out at 44 entries. Weird. Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 21:02

I have never heard this word before. I suspect it is simply an error, and that the writers meant randomly. I couldn’t find anything that defined it, and in the examples you gave, they appeared to mean randomly.

If someone else on here is aware of a technical definition for this word, I’ll gladly yield.

  • See my edit, I don't think they mean randomly. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:29
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    If they had meant something other than randomly, they probably would have defined it in the book, since it is not a commonly used technical term. I think it's an error. Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:34

By the phrase “the operation can’t be randomically distributed”, the authors of Getting Started with Storm are saying that a procedure based on randomness is unsuitable. In the first paragraph you quoted they point out that Shuffle Grouping uses randomness to allocate jobs; in the second, they say that jobs for an earlier example, word counting, cannot be distributed on a random basis.

The authors may have a valid basis for the distinction they attempt to make, but randomically is something of a clumsy nonce word rather than a distinguished addition to the language. As for your links to previous occurrences of the word, all three of them appear to have been written by persons not highly skilled in English:

  • In the first link, “First, let's create a table to performance some tests” and “This code didn't work with me” are telling signs.
  • In the second link, “If I start it manually, it boot fine … it only show the log of the guests that boot” is indicative.
  • In the third link, “This happen to some EMAILs but not to others … Proceeding again in the same way I, finally, send the email”.

That is, those links don’t support randomically as a valid and useful construction.

  • That's a good point. If an article has many spelling and grammar errors, that's pretty good grounds to suspect that an unfamiliar word is, in fact, a mistake of some kind. If an article was otherwise impeccable in its language, I'd take an unfamiliar word more seriously.
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 17:39

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