# “Did you hear about the constipated mathematician? He worked it out with a pencil”

Mathematicians solve problems with a pencil and paper. A popular joke is:

*“Did you hear about the constipated mathematician? He worked it out with a pencil.”*

The joke has been cited in print since at least 1992. It’s frequently added that the constipated mathematician used a “number two” pencil.

Google Groups: rec.humor

constipated Mathematician*Jay Todd Irwin *

1/6/92

Did you hear about the constipated Mathematician??

He worked it out with a pencil.

Google Books*Vampire’s Kiss*

By William Hill

New York, NY: Windsor Publishing Company

1994

Pg. 211:

It would all work its way out in the end, like the constipated mathematician and his pencil.

Google Groups: alt.tasteless.jokes

That constipated mathematician…*.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) *

1/8/94

...“worked it out with his slide-rule” in _my_ day. The modern equivalent would be ...“worked it out with his calculator”, which conjures images too fierce to imagine. So I guess it’s back to “paper and pencil”, as posted earlier. Doesn’t have the same “ring” to it, though.

26 February 2000, *The Guardian* (UK), Weekend, pg. 70, col. 5:

TELL US A JOKE…*Susan Waltham, Brightlingsea, Essex*

‘Q: What did the constipated mathematician do?

A: Work it out with a pencil.’

Google Books*Monologues for Show-Offs*

By Donna Daley and Julie Halston

Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

2008

Pg. 114:

What did the constipated mathematician do? He worked it out with a pencil. Sorry. Do you think he used a number two pencil? Sorry. Sorry if I went off on a tangent.

Twitter

Duncan Robertson

@whomwah

Did you hear about the constipated mathematician that worked it out with a pencil?

7:42 AM - 12 Aug 2008

24 August 2008, Washington (DC) *Post*, “Questioning Authority” by Gene Weingarten, pg. W32:

Did you hear about the constipated mathematician? He worked it out with a pencil!

Twitter

jarredpoor

@jarredpoor

Did you hear about the constipated mathematician? He worked it out with a pencil, it was a number 2

9:20 AM - 14 Jul 2012

reddit

Did you hear about the constipated mathematician? (self.Jokes)

submitted May 7, 2013 by N8_erade

He worked it out with a pencil.

YouTube*Math Jokes Explained - Numberphile*

Numberphile

Published on May 20, 2013

Some of your favourite maths jokes are dissected in forensic fashion.

6:28

“Did you hear the one about the constipated mathematician? He worked it out with a pencil?”