First let’s define this strange fifteen letter word. I say strange because it is in fact fictional but its root is real.
In the 44th episode (15th of the 2nd season) of the science fiction television show, Star Trek, the Enterprise is called to Deep Space Station K7, near an area in dispute between the Federation and the Klingons, by a distress call. Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) becomes furious when he finds out that the reason for the distress call is the under-secretary of agriculture for the sector wants someone to guard the shipments of quadrotriticale bound for Sherman’s Planet, since quadrotriticale is the only Earth grain that would grow on Sherman’s Planet and thus is required to resolve the ownership issue. Kirk assigns two crewmen to guard the grain, but afterwards he finds out the Starfleet Command share the under-secretary’s concerns. In addition, a Klingon ship arrives for shore leave which Kirk agrees as long as the crew are always under Starfleet guard.
Meanwhile, an independent trader, Cyrano Jones, arrives on the station with some tribbles, the cute fury creatures seen in the photograph above. He gives one to Lt. Uhura, who brings it on board the Enterprise, where it and its quickly produced offspring are treated as adorable pets. The animals purr a relaxing trill that the crew find soothing. Klingons, however, find tribbles annoying, and the feeling is mutual: tribbles hiss and shriek whenever they are near Klingons.
Doctor Leonard McCoy is concerned that the increasing numbers of tribbles threaten to consume all the onboard supplies. It is discovered that they are entering ship systems, interfering with their functions and consuming any edible contents present. Kirk realizes that if the tribbles are getting into the ship’s stores, then they are a threat to the grain aboard the station. He examines the holds but learns that it is already too late: The tribbles have indeed eaten the quadrotriticale, and Kirk is literally buried in grain-gorged tribbles when he opens a grain hold with an overhead hatch. Spock and McCoy discover that about half the tribbles in the hold are dead and many of the rest are dying, alerting them that the grain has been poisoned.
The under secretary holds Kirk responsible but in the end, it was his own assistant who was actually a Klingon agent who poisoned the grain. Incidentally, it was the tribbles that exposed him. At the end of the episode, the tribbles are transported onto the Klingon vessel by Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott where, in his words, “they’ll be no tribble at all.”