A Word To The Wise

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Word Trivia

for people with too much time on their hands



  • whine traces to an Old English verb, hwinan, which means to make a humming or whirring sound.  When hwinan became whine in Middle English, it meant to wail distressfully

  • the word tawdry is short for Saint Audrey's Lace (neck lace bought at Saint Audrey's fair in Ely, England).   It is named after Saint Audrey, Northumbrian queen and patron saint of Ely, who, according to tradition, died of a throat tumor which she considered to be a just punishment for her youthful liking of neck laces.

  • The WD in WD-40 stands for Water Displacement.

  • the word sycophant was taken from the Greek suko-phantus, which literally means "fig-blabbers".  (It was against the law in Athens to export figs, but the law was seldom enforced except by people who used it as a pretense to inform against their neighbors in an effort to ingratiate themselves with a certain political party. )  Synonyms include parasite, leech, sponge, and toady.

  • the word samba means "to rub navels together".

  • the word moot is its own antonym.

  • the ZIP in Zip-code stands for "Zoning Improvement Plan".

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

  • No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, and purple.

  • Of is apparently the only word in which an F is pronounced like a V.

  • One thousand contains the letter A, but none of the words from one to nine hundred ninety-nine has an A.


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