No, I Have not Fallen into an Oubliette


podcast-logo.pngOubliette, this word popped up on two sites in one day so I had to include it in a podcast.

Oubliette, as you can probably tell from the sound of oubliette is a French noun. An oubliette is a dungeon or cave with only an opening at the top. A hole in the ground could be an oubliette. A trap door in the floor may lead to an oubliette.

Of the two pages that brought oubliette to my attention, the first, at, used oubliette on its 404- page-not-found error page. I clicked on a broken link and was served this creative and polite prose:


You have fallen into a hole. You find yourself in a small stone room. The only exit appears to be the hole which you fell through, now far above you in the ceiling. There is straw scattered on the cold, cobbled floor. The darkness of this cell seems to swallow up the thin shaft of light falling from above.

A voice from the shadows says “404”. However, before you scream in terror or allow a soul destroying malaise to settle upon you like the dust of ages (what? it already has?), let me hand you a ladder. You see, I’ve rejigged this site and now the walls and doors and such are in all different places. hosts a “Getting Things Done” to do list manager. The second page is closely related, it is an article by Merlin Mann hosted at, a site dedicated to the “Getting Things Done” way of organizing and managing your life. The article “Dr. Contextlove or: “How I stopped worrying and learned to love iCal” describes Mr. Mann’s particular technique for using the Kinkless GTD system to organize his time and tasks. Oubliette is used by Mann to describe where the task he forgets to complete end up; in a dark hole with only one way out.

Oubliette comes from the French verb oublier meaning “to forget.” As in,”put him in oubliette and forget about him.”

According to Wikipedia, and oubliette is also

“used to refer to ice formations over lakes or other large bodies of water. As ice crystals formed, and air was introduced in the movement of the tides, tunnels would form under the ice.”

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