Definition: The practice of spelling words by using numbers on calculator displays.

Pronunciation: Beg-heel-ose


It’s a slang term with an unknown origin.  The earliest known usage of the term is from 1994, but it’s likely older than that, as the practice of making words on calculators displays dates to the 1970s.

Why this word?

All the kids I grew up with played the game of making messages on our calculators- it seemed more fun than using them for their intended mathematical function.  Here are some examples, found online:

Please read them upside down-

53177187714- “hillbillies”

378193771- “illegible”

5318008- “boobies”

77345993- “eggshell”

77165- “spill”

5907- “logs”

30175- “slide”

There are many more out there- see if you can figure some out!

How to use the word beghilos?

“The teacher thought we were working intently on our math, but had no idea we were all intently practicing beghilos on our calculators.”

“In order to render our notes unintelligible to the teacher and other students, we first encoded them through the practice of beghilos.”


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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