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‘Look at the Sizes of That Thing.’ Colorado Sheriff Department’s Confusing Boulder Description is Ruling Social Media

3 minute read
Updated: | Originally published: ;

Language is, in many respects, subjective, and adjectives in particular are always up for interpretation. A “short” haircut can mean something very different to a salongoer and their hairdresser; “simple” instructions for flatpack furniture clearly read differently to many retailers than they do folks tasked with assembling their bookcases or nesting tables. Descriptions of scale can be a challenge, specifically — which the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office in Telluride, Colorado has now learned the “hard” way after a tweet advising a road hazard went viral. (Don’t worry, the burns were “soft.”)

On Monday, a Twitter account for the sheriff’s office tweeted a helpful alert about a fallen boulder that had completely blocked the east-bound lane on Colorado’s Highway 145. But the description of said boulder is what took the Internet by storm.

“Large boulder the size of a small boulder is completely blocking east-bound lane Highway 145 mm78 at Silverpick Rd,” the tweet read. “Please use caution and watch for emergency vehicles in the area.”

In a statement Tuesday morning, a representative for the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office tells TIME that “we [wish] we had deliberately used humor to get motorists to be more aware and watchful for rocks on the highway, but it was a mistake.” (It was also perfect.)

“The tweet should have read ‘the size of a small car,’” rather than the “small boulder,” the statement continued.

Still, people quickly jumped on the ingenious, if contradictory description of the rock that was simultaneously large and small. “I say we name it….wait for it. . . . . . . . . . . Biggie Smalls,” one account tweeted, and in this case it is fair to throw out even a superlative and say that’s the best response possible.

The sheriff’s office tweeted about the rock two more times Monday, offering updates into officials’ work to clear the highway lane with a snow plow.

The Sheriff’s Office also helpfully gave us an estimation of how big a “large boulder the size of a small boulder” actually is. In a tweet, its dimensions and weight were given at “approximately 4ftx4ftx4ft (64 cubic ft)” and and “about 10,000lbs.”

As one Twitter user put it: “Wow, look at the sizes of that thing.”

Correction, Jan. 29

The original version of this story misstated what Twitter user @AddySachs said about the boulder. He said “look at the sizes of that thing,” not “look at the size of that thing.”

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Write to Madeleine Carlisle at madeleine.carlisle@time.com