Make your own free website on

A Penny For Your Thoughts

Snapple Facts
TV and Movies
World Records
Other Facts
Bizarre State Laws
Random Quotes
Deep Thoughts
Unanswerable Questions
Brain Teasers
Pulled-Out-Of-Thin-Air Pics
Contact Me/Links

I didn't know know there was facts about words... 

The English-language alphabet originally had only 24 letters. One missing letter was J, which was the last letter to be added to the alphabet. The other latecomer to the alphabet was U.

"Fan" is an abbreviation for the word "fanatic." Toward the turn of the 19th century, various media referred to football enthusiasts first as "football fanatics," and later as a "football fan."

The proper name of our sole natural satellite is "the Moon" and should be capitalized. The 60-odd natural satellites of other planets, however are called "moons" (in lower case) because each has been given a proper name, such as Deimos, Amalthea, Hyperion, Miranda, Larissa, or Charon.

The word "snorkel" comes from the German word "schnoerkel", which was a tube used by German submarine crews in WW2. The subs used an electric battery when traveling underwater, which had to be recharged using diesel engines, which needed air to run. To avoid the hazard of surfacing to run the engines, the Germans used the schnoerkel to feed air from the surface into the engines.

The name "fez" is Turkish for "Hat".

The combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful plough man strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."

"The verb "cleave" is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate.

"Jerkwater" is a railroad term. Until about fifty years ago, most trains were pulled by thirsty steam engines that needed to refill their boilers from water towers next to the tracks. But some towns were so small and inconsequential that they lacked a water tower. When trains stopped in those places, the crew had to find a nearby stream or well and, bucket-brigade style, "jerk" the water to the train. Those little dots on the map became known as jerkwater towns.

Malcolm Lowry had pnigophobia—the fear of choking on fish bones.

Augustus Caesar had achluophobia—the fear of sitting in the dark.

Androphobia is a fear of men.

Caligynephobia is a fear of beautiful women.

Pentheraphobia is a fear of a mother-in-law.

Scopophobia is a fear of being looked at.

Phobophobia is a fear of fearing.

Mageiricophobia is the intense fear of having to cook.

Papaphobia is the fear of Popes.

Taphephobia is the fear of being buried alive.

Clinophobia is the fear of beds.

Incredible means not believable. Incredulous means not believing. When someone's story is truly incredible, you ought to be incredulous.

The terms "prime minister," "premier" and "chancellor" all refer to the leading minister of a government, and any differences from nation to nation stem from different systems of government, not from title definitions.

Tennis pro Evonne Goolagong's last name means "kangaroo's nose" in Australia's aboriginal language.

A "sysygy" occurs when all the planets of the our Solar System line up.

The most common letters in the English language are R S T L N E. Sound familiar? Watch an episode of "Wheel of Fortune"...

A "necropsy" is an autopsy on animals.

EEG stands for Electroencephalogram.

The English word pajamas has it's origin in Persian. It is a combination of the Persian words pa (leg) and jamah (garment).

The ZIP in zip code stands for "Zone Improvement Plan."

Yucatan, as in the peninsula, is from Maya "u" + "u" + "uthaan" meaning "listen how they speak," and is what the Maya said when they first heard the Spaniards.

Punctuation was not invented until the 1500's.

"Catch 22" has come to mean a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem. The original "Catch-22," in Joseph Heller's 1961 novel of the same name, is the catch that prevents a US Air Force pilot in World War II from asking to be grounded on the basis of insanity. The pilot knows that military regulations permit insane pilots to be grounded and not forced to fly further dangerous bombing missions. However, the regulation prevents airmen from escaping bombing missions by pleading insanity by stating that any airman rational enough to WANT to be grounded cannot possibly be insane and therefore is fit to fly. From the novel: a man "would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to: but if he didn't he was sane and had to."

The custom of saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes was first used by ancients when they believed that breath was the essence of life, and when you sneeze a part of you life is escaping. Evil spirits rush into your body and occupy the empty space. By saying "God bless you" the speaker is protecting the sneezer from that spirits.

Lycanthropy is a disease in which a man thinks he's a wolf. It is the scientific name for "wolf man" or, werewolf.

"Evian" spelled backwards is naive.

Author Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, who sometimes wrote under the name "The Duchess," observed in her novel "Molly Bawn" that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." The phrase has passed into the English language.

The "glair" is the white or clear part of an egg. The word glair comes from the Latin clarus, meaning "clear."

The longest word used by Shakespeare in any of his works is "honorificabilitudinitatibus," found in "Love's Labors Lost." Unfortunately he's no longer around to tell us what it means.

Colgate faced a big obstacle marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking countries. Colgate translates into the command "go hang yourself."

The right side of a boat was called the starboard side due to the fact that the astronavigators used to stand out on the plank (which was on the right side) to get an unobstructed view of the stars. The left side was called the port side because that was the side that you put in on at the port. This was so that they didn't knock off the starboard.

Ever wonder where the phrase "two bits" came from? Some coins used in the American colonies before the Revolutionary War were Spanish dollars, which could be cut into pieces, or bits. Since two pieces equaled one-fourth dollar, the expression "two bits" came into being as a name for 25 cents.

Montgomery Ward was the first to advertise "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back" in 1874 — two years after Aaron Montgomery Ward, launched his first mail-order catalog.

OK is the most successful of all Americanisms. It has invaded hundreds of other languages and been adopted by them as a word. Mencken claims that US troops deployed overseas during WWII found it already in use by Bedouins in the Sahara to the Japanese in the Pacific. It was also the fourth word spoken on the surface of the moon. It stands for oll korrect, a misspelling of all correct.

When Coca-Cola began to be sold in China, they used characters that would sound like "Coca-Cola" when spoken. Unfortunately, what they turned out to mean was "Bite the wax tadpole".

Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."

Pokemon stands for "pocket monster."

The name Ethiopia mean "land of sunburned faces" in Greek.

A coward was originally a boy who took care of cows.

MAFIA is an acronym for Morte Alla Francia Italia Anela, or "Death to the French is Italy's Cry"

The Sanskrit word for "war" means "desire for more cows."

When a film is in production, the last shot of the day is the "martini shot," the next to last one is the "Abby Singer".

"Hara kiri" is an impolite way of saying the Japanese word "seppuku" which means, literally, "belly splitting."

A bird watching term: peebeegeebee = a pied-billed grebe.

"Big cheese" and "big wheel" are Medieval terms of envious respect for those who could afford to buy whole wheels of cheese at a time, an expense few could enjoy. Both these terms are often used sarcastically today.

When two words are combined to form a single word (e.g., motor + hotel = motel, breakfast + lunch = brunch) the new word is called a "portmanteau."

The slash character is called a virgule, or solidus. A URL uses slash characters, not back slash characters.

"Corduroy" comes from the French, "cord du roi" or "cloth of the king."

In the Greek alphabet "X" is the first letter for the word Christ, "Xristos." Xmas means "Christ's mass."

If you come from Manchester, you are a Mancunian.

There are six words in the English language with the letter combination "uu." Muumuu, vacuum, continuum, duumvirate, duumvir and residuum.

The abbreviation "ORD" for Chicago's O'Hare airport comes from the old name "Orchard Field."

Telephone is derived from two Greek words, tele + phone, meaning far off voice or sound.(Tele, far off + phone, voice or sound).

The word for "name" in Japanese is "na-ma-e," in Mongolian "nameg."

"Polish" is the only word in the English language that when capitalized is changed from a noun or a verb to a nationality.

Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning "containing arsenic."

Sheriff came from Shire Reeve. During early years of feudal rule in England, each shire had a reeve who was the law for that shire. When the term was brought to the United States it was shortened to Sheriff.

The ball on top of a flagpole is called the truck.

The difference between a "millennium" and a "chiliad"? None. Both words mean "a period of one thousand years", the former from Latin, the later from Greek.

The stress in Hungarian words always falls on the first syllable.

The word for "dog" in the Australian aboriginal language Mbabaran happens to be "dog."

The side of a hammer is a cheek.

The initials for morning and evening are based on latin words—ante meridiem and post meridiem. "Ante," of course means "before" and "post" means "after." "Meridiem" means "noon."

The @ symbol has become an important part of e-mail culture. It separates the User Name from the Domain Name. All countries throughout the world use the same symbol but it obviously has a different name in other tongues. In English it is simply the 'at' sign.
Here are just a few of the more endearing terms:

Italy: 'chiocciolina' - which, in Italian, means 'little snail'
France: 'petit escargot' - also 'little snail'
Germany: 'klammeraffe' - which means 'spider monkey'.
Dutch: 'api' - a shortened version of 'apestaart' or 'monkey's tail'.
Finland: 'miau' or 'cat's tail'.
Norway: 'kanel-bolle', a spiral shaped cinnamon cake
Israel: 'shtrudel' - following the pastry concept
Denmark: 'snabel', an 'A' with a trunk.
Spain: 'arroba'. the Spanish symbol for a unit of weight of about 25 pounds.

A "pogonip" is a heavy winter fog containing ice crystals.

The little bits of paper left over when holes are punched in data cards or tape are called Chad.

The loop on a belt that holds the loose end is called a "keeper".

Las Vegas means "the meadows" in Spanish. Ironically, the city in the desert was once abundant in water and vegetation.

The word "mullet" describes a hairstyle worn, particularly in the southern USA, which is characterized by short hair on the top and sides, with very long hair in the back.

"Quisling" is the only word in the English language to start with "quis."

The French equivalent of "Pumpkin" (our pet name) is calling them "Chou-Chou" which is little cabbage.

In ancient Egypt, the apricot was called the "egg of the sun."

The equivalent of calling someone a jerk in English is calling them a pickle in French.

Beets reminded early cooks of a bleeding animal when they cut them open, so they started calling them "beets." This was derived from the French word bÍte, meaning "beast."

The phrase "a red letter day" dates back to 1704, when holy days were marked in red letters in church calendars.

The phrase "guinea pig" originated when a tax was imposed on powder for wigs in England to help pay for the war with Napoleon. The list of those who had paid the guinea (one pound, one shilling) was posted on their parish church door. As they were the wealthy of the day, they became known as the guinea pigs.

Mothers were originally named mama or mommy (in many languages) because they have mammary glands.

The word "yo-yo" itself was a registered trademark of Duncan until 1965.

The expression "getting someone's goat" is based on the custom of keeping a goat in the stable with a racehorse as the horse's companion. The goat becomes a settling influence on the thoroughbred. If you owned a competing horse and were not above some dirty business, you could steal your rival's goat (seriously, it's been done) to upset the other horse and make it run a poor race. From goats and horses it was linguistically extended to people: in order to upset someone, "get their goat."

Upper and lower case letters are named 'upper' and 'lower', because in the time when all original print had to be set in individual letters, the 'upper case' letters were stored in the case on top of the case that stored the smaller, 'lower case' letters.

In India and Iran, the part of the house reserved for women is called a "zenana."

Pregnant goldfish are "twits."

The word "alcatraz" is Spanish for "pelican".

The Chinese ideogram for 'trouble' depicts two women living under one roof'.

The alteration of the architectural appearance of a city by the construction of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings is known as "Manhattanization". The term refers to the New York borough Manhattan.

The first college to use the word "campus" to describe its grounds was Princeton. "Campus" is Latin for "field."

The English-language alphabet originally had only 24 letters. One missing letter was J, which was the last letter to be added to the alphabet. The other latecomer to the alphabet was U.

The phrase "jet lag" was once called "boat lag", back before airplanes existed.

Dr. Seuss coined the word "nerd" in his 1950 book "If I Ran The Zoo"

Mountains are formed by a process called orogeny.

A "quidnunc" is a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip, otherwise, a busybody.

April Fools' Day has always been celebrated in Australia and it's easy to see why when you look at the list of Aussie words which mean 'fool', amongst their other amusing meanings:
Boofhead: an idiot or a fool, sometimes with a big, ugly head too.
Burke and Wills: rhyming slang - dills, as in, "They'd be Burke and Wills." - idiots or fools. From the surnames of two famous but ultimately doomed explorers of outback Australia.
Dag: an amusing type of idiot or fool, usually a well intentioned jibe, "a bit of a dag".
Dill: an idiot or a fool.
Dip Stick: an idiot, a fool.
Droob: slow witted or slow moving person, not too bright, a fool.
Duffer: a silly or foolish person, also refers to one who steals sheep.
Goose: a 'dead set' (real) fool.
Nong: idiot, fool.
Ratbag: a foolish type of eccentric.

Kyoto, which was the Japanese capital before Tokyo, means "old capital".

Hydroxydesoxycorticosterone and hydroxydeoxycorticosterones are the largest anagrams.

A chiropodist treats hands and feet.

Narcissism is the psychiatric term for self-love.

The boundary between two air masses is called a "front."

A nihilist believes in nothing.

A gynephobic man fears women.

A community of ants is called a colony.

A phonophobe fears noise.

The food of the Greek gods was called Ambrosia.

German is considered the sister language of English.

A horologist measures time.

Hairy people are called "hirsute."

"Almost" is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.

"Diddle for the middle" is a slang expression used for the start of a darts game. Opposing players each throw a single dart at the bull's eye. The person who is closest starts the game.

"E" is the most frequently used letter in the English alphabet, "Q" is the least.

"Guddling" was the act of fishing with one's hands by reaching under stones along river banks. It is now an outdated term.

"Hagiology" is the branch of literature dealing with the lives and legends of saints.

"I am" is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

"Kemo Sabe" reportedly means "soggy shrub" in Navajo.

"Lobster shift" is a colloquial term for the night shift of a newspaper staff.

"Mrs." is the abbreviation of Mistress, which originally was a title and form of address for a married woman. It was always capitalized.

White elephants were rare even in Siam (the modern Thailand). If you found one the emperor automatically owned it and you couldn't harm it. When the emperor wanted to punish someone, he gave him or her a white elephant as a "gift." They couldn't ride it or work it, but they still had to take care of it and clean up after it. And you know what elephants do besides eat. So the gift was useless. Hence the expression.

"To whinge" is Australian slang for "to complain constantly."

"Turnip" used to be a U.S. slang expression for a pocket watch.

"Romanji" is a system of writing Japanese using the Latin alphabet.

"Toboggan" is derived from the Algonquin language and loosely meant "instrument with which to drag a cord."

"Yakka" means "hard work" in Australian slang.

Graffito is the little-used singular of the much used plural word graffiti.

Hoi polloi is a Greek phrase meaning "the many". Hoi polloi are the masses.

The American Heritage Dictionary was once banned from the Eldon, Missouri library because it contained 39 "objectionable" words.

A "clue" originally meant a ball of thread. This is why one is said to "unravel" the clues of a mystery.

A "criticaster" is an incompetent, inferior critic.

Ekistics is the science of human settlements, including city or community planning and design.

A greenish facial tint has long been associated with illness, as suggested by the phrase "green around the gills." As a person who is very envious is considered by many folks to be unwell, these people have been described as "green (or sick) with envy."

The word constipation (con sta PAY shun) comes from a Latin word that means "to crowd together."

The study of nose picking is called "rhinotillexomania."

The Ouija board is named for the French and German words for yes - oui and ja.

The explative, "Holy Toledo," refers to Toledo, Spain, which became an outstanding Christian cultural center in 1085.

The term "honeymoon" is derived from the Babylonians who declared mead, a honey-flavored wine, the official wedding drink, stipulating that the bride's parents be required to keep the groom supplied with the drink for the month following the wedding.

Scatologists are experts who study poop (a.k.a. crap, dung, dookie, dumps, feces, excrement, etc...).

A deltiologist collects postcards.

Women who wink at men are known as "nictitating" women.

A male witch is called a warlock.

The name of the point at which condensation begin is called the dew point.

Xenophobia is the fear of strangers or foreigners.

A notaphile collects bank notes.

A phrenologist feel and interpret skull features.

The abbreviation e.g. stands for "Exempli gratia", or "For example."

Ukulele means "little jumping flea" in Hawaiian.

Shakespeare is given credit by scholars for introducing as many as 10,000 words and phrases into written language, including "skim milk," "alligator," and "hobnob." But it's not at all certain that he made this many words up. Most were probably common terms for his time and he merely was the first to put them in written form in his plays and poems. Some scholars give him credit for thousands, but others say he actually coined only a few hundred.

"Acre" literally means the amount of land plowable in one day.

Would you believe that "on the nose" comes from radio? When broadcasting began, directors had to communicate with people on the air without making noise, so they developed hand signals. Time is always a key element in live broadcasts. The person at the mike needed to know if the program was on schedule. If things were "just right," the director signaled with a finger to the side of his or her nose.

"Doubleheader," which refers to two baseball games played back to back, was originally a railroad term that referred to two engines in a switching yard hooked up back to back on a single train. The train could also be called a "two-header."

"Mark twain" means "two fathoms." (A fathom, of course is six feet deep, so that's 12 feet.) When navigating a riverboat over the Mississippi River, a riverboat captain needs someone to call out the depth in tricky areas to ensure that the boat can make it through. If he hears "mark twain," he knows that the water is barely deep enough for the boat to pass.

Samuel Clemens, the creator of the adventuresome Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, took "Mark Twain" as his pen name. This was not because he WAS a riverboat captain, but because he once wanted very badly to be one.

The English word pajamas has it's origin in Persian. It is a combination of the Persian words pa (leg) and jamah (garment).

The word "puppy" comes from the French poupee, meaning "doll."

Spain literally means 'the land of rabbits.'

The abbreviation for 1 pound, lb., comes from the astrological sign Libra, meaning balance.

Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?

Crazy but True