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iFact #52 - Interesting Facts, Trivia and Useful Information About the Alphabet and Letters
Interesting Facts, Trivia and Useful Information About the Alphabet and Letters
The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means "the king is dead".
The only city whose name can be spelled completely with vowels is Aiea, Hawaii.
Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning "containing arsenic."
"Polish" is the only word in the English language that when capitalized is changed from a noun or a verb to a nationality.
"Corduroy" comes from the French, "cord du roi" or "cloth of the king."
The slash character is called a virgule, or solidus. A URL uses slash characters, not back slash characters.
The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
The verb "cleave" is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate.
The combination "ough" can be pronounced in nine different ways. The following sentence contains them all: "A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."
The highest scoring word in the English language game of Scrabble is 'Quartzy'. This will score 164 points if played across a red triple-word square with the Z on a light blue double-letter square. It will score 162 points if played across two pink double-word squares with the Q and the Y on those squares. 'Bezique' and 'Cazique' are next with a possible 161 points. All three words score an extra 50 points for having seven letters and therefore emptying the letter rack in one go.
The English word with the most consonants in a row is latchstring.
The word "robot" was created by Karel Capek. It came from Czech/Slovak "robotovat," which means to work very hard.
The only word that consists of two letters, each used three times is the word "deeded."
A hamlet is a village without a church and a town is not a city until it has a cathedral.
The stress in Hungarian words always falls on the first syllable.
The word "karate" means "empty hand."
The word "girl" appears only once in the Bible.
The abbrevation "PDX" (Portland International Airport) is derived from "P" standing for Portland and "DX" meaning long distance or wide reaching.
The abbreviation "ORD" for Chicago's O'Hare airport comes from the old name "Orchard Field."
Switching letters is called spoonerism. For example, saying jag of Flapan, instead of flag of Japan.
A H I M O T U V W X Y are the symmetric capital letters in the Roman alphabet. i l o t u v w x are the symmetric lower case letters in the Roman alphabet.
All Hebrew orignating names that end with the letters "el" have something to do with God. Source: Joshua Allen
The 'v' in the name of a court case does not stand for 'versus', but for 'and' (in civil proceedings) or 'against' (in criminal proceedings).
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; that month became known as the honeymonth, hence our honeymoon. Source: Bryan Giese
"Rhythm" and "syzygy" are the longest English words without vowels.
The national anthem of the Netherlands "Het Wilhelmus," is an 'acrostichon.' The first letters of each of the fifteen verses represent the name "Willem Van Nassov" (old spelling.) Source: Albert Siersema
The two longest one-syllable words in the English language are "screeched" and "strengths." Source: Michael Baraz
'Strengths' is the longest word in the English language with just one vowel.
The longest place-name still in use is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a New Zealand hill.
The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. It is a a pneumoconiosis caused by the inhalation of very fine silicate or quartz dust. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural.
The second longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary is "floccinaucinihilipilification," which means "the act of estimating as worthless."
The third longest word in the English language is "antidisestablishmenterianism".
The longest muscle name is the "levator labiisuperioris alaeque nasi" and Elvis popularized it with his lip motions.
'Stewardesses' and 'reverberated' are the two longest words (12 letters each) that can be typed using on the left hand.
The longest word that can be typed using on the right hand is 'lollipop'.
'Skepticisms' is the longest word that can be typed using alternate hands.
One of the longest English words that can be typed using the top row of a typewriter (allowing multiple uses of letters) is 'typewriter.'
One out of every eight letters used in written English is an e. Source: "2201 Fascinating Facts"
Alma mater means bountiful mother.
No words in the English language rhyme with orange, silver or purple.
The language Malayalam, spoken in parts of India, is the only language whose name is a palindrome.
The words 'sacrilegious' and 'religion' do not share the same etymological root.
The phrase "sleep tight" originated when mattresses were set upon ropes woven through the bed frame. To remedy sagging ropes, one would use a bed key to tighten the rope.
No word in the English language rhymes with month.
"Evian" spelled backwards is naive.
The word denim comes from 'deNimes', or from Nimes, a place in France.
Dublin comes from the Irish Dubh Linn which means Blackpool.
Scottish is the language called Gaelic, whereas Irish is actually called Gaeilge.
"Freelance" comes from a knight whose lance was free for hire, i.e. not pledged to one master.
The term "Mayday" used for signaling for help after (SOS), it comes from the French term "M'aidez" which is pronounced "MayDay" and means, "Help Me"
The term "devil's advocate"comes from the Roman Catholic church. When deciding if someone should become a saint, a devil's advocate is always appointed to give an alternative view.
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."
Avocado is derived from the Spanish word 'aguacate' which is derived from 'ahuacatl' meaning testicle.
AM and PM stand for "Ante-Meridian" and "Post-Meridian," respectively, and A.D. actually stands for "Anno Domini" rather than "After Death."
The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
Lucifer is latin for "Light Bringer". It is a translation of the Hebrew name for Satan, Halael. Satan Means "adversary", devil means "liar".
Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order.
The heraldic term "gules", meaning red, comes from the French word "gueules", meaning a throat.
The "D" in D-day means "Day". The French term for "D-Day" is "J-jour".
The only Dutch word to contain eight consecutive consonants is 'angstschreeuw'.
There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs six times: Indivisibility.
The letters H I O X in the latin alphabet is the only ones that look the same if you turn them upside down or see them from behind.
There are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet.
The youngest letters in the English language are "j," "v" and "w."
The only capital letter in the Roman alphabet with exactly one end point is P.
The dot over the letter 'i' is called a tittle.
"Xmas" does not begin with the Roman letter X. It begins with the Greek letter "chi," which was used in medieval manuscripts as an abbreviation for the word "Christ" (xus=christus, etc.)
The letter W is the only letter in the alphabet that doesn't have 1 syllable... it has three.
"Bookkeeper" and "bookkeeping" are the only words in the English language with three consecutive double letters.
There is a seven letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters, "therein": the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, here, ere therein, herein.
"Underground" is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters "und."
"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
There are only three words in the English language with the letter combination "uu." Muumuu, vacuum and continuum.
The first letters of the names of the Great Lakes spell HOMES.
The first letters of the months July through November, in order, spell the name JASON.
The oldest word in the English language is "town"
Hydroxydesoxycorticosteroneandhydroxydeoxycorticosterones are the largest anagrams.
Los Angeles's full name is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula" and can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size, "L.A."
The Old English word for "sneeze" is "fneosan."
The word "Boondocks" comes from the Tagalog (Filipino) word "Bundok," which means mountain.
Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.
The derivation of the word trivia comes from the Latin "tri-" + "via", which means three streets. This is because in ancient times, at an intersection of three streeets in Rome (or some other Italian place), they would have a type of kiosk where ancillary information was listed. You might be interested in it, you might not, hence they were bits of "trivia."
There are only four words in the English language which end in "-dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
"Speak of the Devil" is short for "Speak of the Devil and he shall come". It was believed that if you spoke about the Devil it would attract his attention. That's why when your talking about someone and they show up people say "Speak of the Devil"
The "Nullarbor" in Nullarbor Desert in Western Australia is a Latin name; Null=No, Arbor=Trees.
The word "samba" means "to rub navels together."
The 'y' in signs reading "ye olde.." is properly pronounced with a 'th' sound, not 'y'. The "th" sound does not exist in Latin, so ancient Roman occupied (present day) England use the rune "thorn" to represent "th" sounds. With the advent of the printing press the character from the Roman alphabet which closest resembled thorn was the lower case "y".
"Hara kiri" is an impolite way of saying the Japanese word "seppuku" which means, literally, "belly splitting."
The word "set" has more definitions than any other word in the English language.
The word "moose" was originally Algonquin.
The Sanskrit word for "war" means "desire for more cows."
The ampersand (&) is actually a stylised version of the Latin word "et," meaning and."
The word "hangnail" comes from Middle English:ang- (painful) + nail. Nothing to do with hanging.
QANTAS, the name of the Australian national airline, is a (former) acronym, for Queensland And Northern Territories Air Service.
The word 'byte' is a contraction of 'by eight.'
The word 'pixel' is a contraction of either 'picture cell' or 'picture element.'
No modern language has a true concept of "I am." It is always used linked with are in reference of another verb.
The naval rank of "Admiral" is derived from the Arabic phrase "amir al bahr", which means "lord of the sea"
In Chinese, the words for crisis and opportunity are the same.
German has a word for the peace offerings brought to your mate when you've committed some conceived slight. This is "drachenfutter" or dragon's food.
The Chinese ideogram for "trouble" symbolizes "two women living under one roof".
The correct response to the Irish greeting, "Top of the morning to you," is "and the rest of the day to yourself."
Swahili is acombination of African tribal languages, Arabic and Portuguese.
The abbreviation for pound, "lb.," comes from the astrological sign Libra, meaning balance, and symbolized by scales.
The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the "General Purpose" vehicle, G.P.
The native tribe of Tierradel Fuego has a language so guttural it cannot have an alphabet.
Sheriff came from Shire Reeve. During early years of monarchial 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 shortned to Sheriff.
The Greek version of the Old Testament is called the Septuagint.
The word "queueing" is the only English word with five consecutive vowels.
The word "modem" is a contraction of the words "modulate, demodulate." (MOdulateDEModulate)
"Mr. Mojo Risin" is an anagram for Jim Morrison.
The shortest French word with all five vowels is "oiseau" meaning bird.
Pinocchio is Italian for "pine head."
The infinity sign is called a lemniscate.
The only word in the English language with all five vowels in reverse order is "subcontinental."