48 Things You Didn't Know Had Names

Traimak_Ivan/iStock via Getty Images
Traimak_Ivan/iStock via Getty Images

So that's what it's called! It turns out that thingy, that doohickey, that stuff, and that space between those two things probably all have names you didn't know.

1. Glabella

Close up of a woman's eyes and nose
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The space between your eyebrows is a glabella. That's also the name of the bone underneath that space that connects your brow ridges.

2. petrichor

Plants in the sun after rain
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Do you love the smell of rain? That clean, greenish aroma when rain drops hit dry ground? That's petrichor from the Greek Petra, meaning stone, and ichor, meaning the blood of the gods and goddesses. The term was coined by two Australian researchers in 1964 but became better known in 2011, when it popped up in an episode of Doctor Who.

3. paresthesia

Photo of a young woman sitting on the sofa massaging her ankle and foot
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Pins and needles. Crawling skin. The tingling sensation you get when your foot's asleep is known as paresthesia (you knew it had to have a -thesia in it) and there are dozens of causes.

4. Dysania

A woman wearing an eye mask sleeps on white sheets
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Dysania means having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning‚ and not just in the way that makes you want to crawl back under the covers. Though it's not officially recognized as a medical condition, and can impact people's lives in a variety of negative ways.

5. Griffonage

Photo of a doctor taking notes while meeting with patient
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Illegible handwriting is called griffonage. (Take note, doctors.)

6. Acnestis

Young, blonde woman massaging her naked shoulder with hand
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The unreachable spot between your shoulder blades is your acnestis. Next time you can't reach an itch, ask a loved one to scratch your acnestis and see what they say.

7. Palindromes

A red formula one racecar at the front of a pack of racecars
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You probably know that a palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same way forward as it does backward. Like Mom or racecar or taco cat. There are whole books dedicated to these bad boys.

8. semordnilap

dessert
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You might be familiar with palindromes, but you're probably less familiar with semordnilaps: a word that means one thing forward and another backward. Like stressed and desserts. Other examples include diaper/repaid, parts/strap and, of course, semordnilap itself read backward spells palindrome!

9. Aphthongs

Two knights compete in a tournament
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Silent letters, like in knight, fight, or Django, are aphthongs. This might be something that you already knew. (See what we did there?)

10. Lawn mullet

Someone mowing their lawn
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If you only clean up your front lawn you might have a lawn mullet. Picture it: A neatly manicured front lawn and an overgrown mess in the back.

11. Googleganger

Google open on smart phone.
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The person with your name who shows up in your Google search results is your Googleganger. Try not to be too annoyed that there's someone more internet famous than you. Instead, reach out politely to potentially gain a super surreal pen pal.

12. Aglets

Close up of gold shoes with laces
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The bits at the ends of shoelaces are called aglets.

13. Ferrule

A pile of pencils with erasers
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The bit at the end of the pencil that holds the eraser in place is a ferrule—though it's not just for pencils. Ferrules are any thin bracelet that fastens or reinforces a tube or pole that might split.

14. Zugzwang

Photo of a chessboard
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When every move you can make in chess hurts you, you're in zugzwang. Which by the way, sometimes also happens when you're playing Connect Four. And in real life.

15. Scroop

Photo of a young woman in a fancy silk dress
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Scroop is the swooshy sound ballgowns make. More generally, it's the sound produced by the movement of silk.

16. Tittle

Hand writing in notebook.
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That thing you use to dot a lower case i is called a tittle.

17. Pizza saver

Close up of pizza with a plastic pizza saver in box
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The tiny plastic table protecting your pizza is a pizza saver. It was patented in 1983 by Carmela Vitale and has protected countless pizzas from being marred by sagging cardboard.

18. Kummerspeck

A woman's hand holding a pink frosted doughnut against a yellow background
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Kummerspeck is the excess weight you gain from emotional eating. Its literal translation? Grief bacon.

19. Crapulous

Photo of a young man asleep after a night of overindulgence
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The uncomfortable feeling you get from overindulging? Crapulous. Though it sounds like a word invented by a middle-schooler in the 1990s, crapulous dates back to the 1530s when it was used to describe that gross nauseated feeling that you get from drinking too much.

20. Caruncule

A close-up of an eye
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The triangular bump on the inside corner of your eye is the caruncule. It's just skin covering sweat glands, which is why it, too, can get itchy.

21. Philtrum

Baby's face with spit bubbles
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The fold of skin between your nose and upper lip is the philtrum. It's also called the medial cleft, but it comes from the ancient Greek for love charm.

22. Niddick

Nape of a woman's neck, wearing a kimono
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The technical term for the nape of your neck is the niddick. If you're keeping score, niddick has two tittles.

23. Rhinotillexomania

Photo of young boy in glasses picking his nose
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Obsessive nose-picking is called rhinotillexomania. How much counts as obsessive? We'll leave that up to you to decide.

24. Peladophobia

Photo of a balding man looking in the mirror
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Peladophobia is the fear of bald people. It's also the fear of becoming bald, which means it's most frequently suffered by balding people who are turning into the thing they fear the most.

25. Pentheraphobia

 A domestic dinner scene from the film 'Molly O'.
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Pentheraphobia is the fear of your mother-in-law. And soceraphobia is the fear of your father-in-law.

26. Arachibutyrophobia

A young girl spreads peanut butter on bread while smiling
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Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. It's most likely related to pseudodysphagia, the fear of choking, so it's not as silly as it sounds. However, there's no known word for the fear of being forced to say arachibutyrophobia while peanut butter is stuck to the roof of your mouth.

27. Scandiknavery

Photo of the Scandinavian flags against a blue sky
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Scandiknavery means deceit by Scandinavians. Like so many 20th century words, we have James Joyce to thank for that one. And of course, deceitful Scandinavians.

28. Punt

A collection of wine bottles in a wine shop
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The indent on the bottom of a wine bottle is called a punt. As in: When it's fourth down with 20 yards to go, you should get a big bottle of wine.

29. Agraffe

Champagne on ice
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An agraffe is the wire cage that keeps a cork in a bottle of champagne. It's also called a muselet, which is apparently not a tiny muse.

30. Barm

Overhead shot of the foam in a glass of beer
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Beer foam is called barm. It's a byproduct of the yeast hitting the buffet in your beer, and, yes, you can make really good bread from it.

31. The zings

A man sitting on a couch with a glass of water, making a pained face, touching his head with his hand.
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Another name for a hangover is the zings. Encounter too many punts, agraffes, and barms in one night and you'll have the zings, which seems a rather peppy name for a hangover.

32. Zarf

Starbucks paper coffee cup with brand logo on sleeve
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The cardboard sleeve around your coffee is a zarf. Traditionally it's the decorative metal holder that comes around a lot of beverage-holders, but modern users have ported it over to the recyclable ring around your to-go coffee cup.

33. grawlix

Comic style girl angry at her phone message and swearing
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The string of symbols comic strips use for profanity is called a grawlix. *#%* yeah it is!

34. Contronym

Person cutting a tomato in half with knife
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A word that can be its own antonym is called a contronym. For example, cleave can mean to sever or to cling. Off means deactivated, as in to turn off, but it also means activated as in "the alarm went off." Weather can mean to withstand or come safely through or it can mean to be worn away. If you seed your lawn, you add seeds but if you seed a tomato, you remove them.

35. Apricity

A woman in a light blue knit cap and blue knit scarf enjoys the sun on her face in the snow
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The warmth of the sun on a cold day is apricity. It's out of use, but the only thing it needs to come back into use is for people like us to use it.

36. biblioklept

Looking down on books.
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A book thief is a biblioklept. But saying "book thief" saves you some time and syllables.

37. quincunx

Photo of red casino dice
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The five dot pattern found on dice is a quincunx. Thomas Edison had the five dots tattooed on his left forearm.

38. vorfreude

happy girl throwing confetti
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Vorfreude is the joy you feel thinking about good things that will happen. You probably already know the meaning of schadenfreude. Vorfreude is its kinder, nicer cousin. Literally "pre-joy."

39. mononymous

Singer Madonna attends the 2016 Billboard Music Awards at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Madonna attends the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Todd Williamson/Getty Images for dcp

A person known by one name is mononymous. Like Adele or Voltaire or Madonna. By the way, just for the record: Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, Francois-Marie Arouet, and Madonna Louise Ciccone are their full names.

40. String

A herd of Shetland ponies grazing in a field
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A group of ponies is called a string. This is from James Lipton's delightful book, An Exaltation of Larks.

41. business

A ferret goes for a walk on a leash
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An assembly of ferrets is a business.

42. smack


Diana Robinson via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

A group of jellyfish is a smack (though a zap somehow seems more appropriate).

43. gam

A blue whale navigates the waters
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A group of whale is a gam of whales. A gam is also a pleasant conversation between whalers.

44. murder

A crow sitting on a fence.
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A group of crows is known as a murder. They got the name in the 15th century because of their association with death. The term is also unfair and a bit outdated; ornithologists use flock for any kind of bird grouping, including crows. Food for thought!

45. unkindness

Close up of a handsome raven.
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A group of ravens is an unkindness. People 500 years ago were really not nice to crows and ravens.

46. trip

Photo of a goat with its tongue sticking out
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Three or more goats is a trip. You can also call them a herd or a tribe.

47. Parliament

A photo of an Eastern Screech Owl peeking out of hole in the tree
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Many owls form a parliament. Another playful name from the 15th century that some birders want to get away from.

48. Pass

A photo of three smiling donkeys on a farm
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A group of donkeys is a pass: A pass of asses.

'Turdsworth': Lord Byron’s Not-So-Affectionate Nickname for William Wordsworth

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GeorgiosArt/iStock via Getty Images

For those of you who thought William Wordsworth was a not-so-subtle pseudonym meant to further the literary brand of a certain 19th-century poet, think again: William Wordsworth’s real name was actually William Wordsworth.

The fitting, alliterative moniker makes it hard to forget that Wordsworth was a wordsmith, but it also made him an easy target for mockery at the hands of other Romantic era writers.

Some of it was the type of clever wordplay you might expect from England’s elite poets. In an essay for the London Review of Books, Michael Wood highlights the time that Samuel Taylor Coleridge sent his poem “The Nightingale” to Wordsworth, writing, “And like an honest bard, dear Wordsworth/You’ll tell me what you think, my Bird’s worth.”

While Coleridge’s witty rhyme poked fun at Wordsworth in a playful way, not all of his contemporaries were quite so kind. As Literary Hub points out, Lord Byron referred to Wordsworth as “Turdsworth.”

Byron’s jab sounds like something you’d hear at an elementary-school kickball game, but, then again, the eccentric poet was never one to adhere to anybody’s expectations—during college, for example, he often walked his pet bear around the grounds.

As for the word turd itself, it’s been around much longer than you might have realized. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it derives from the Old English word tord, meaning “piece of excrement,” and it’s been used as a personal insult ever since the 15th century.

If fecal-themed nicknames aren’t really your thing, here are 42 other Old English insults that you can fling with abandon.

[h/t Literary Hub]

14 Colonial-Era Slang Terms to Work Into Modern Conversation

The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images
The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

When you think of Colonial America, soldiers marching to fife and drum and Benjamin Franklin flying a kite are probably what come to mind. But the Colonial Period—which stretched from roughly 1607 to 1776, starting when America was just a group of colonies on the east side of the continent and ending with the Revolutionary War and the signing of the Declaration of Independence—was a fascinating but complicated time in which settlers from England forged a proud new identity. These new settlers brought the English language with them when they came, and whenever English finds a new home, it often takes on a new life. America was no exception. Here are 15 slang words that were recorded in and around this period of American history.

1. Kedge

What It Meant: Doing well

In you lived in a country town in Colonial-era New England and someone asked how you were doing, you might have replied, “I’m pretty kedge.” It’s a bizarre but wonderful term that essentially means in being in good health—but it also kind of sounds like something a teen in an ‘80s movie would say.

2. Cat's-paw, or to be made a cat's-paw out of

What It Meant: To be a dupe, to be used as a tool.

This colorful expression came from a fable, The Monkey and the Cat, where a monkey persuades a cat to pull chestnuts out of a fire, promising the cat its share. Spoiler alert: The cat doesn't get any. So to be used for someone else's gain is to be made a "cat's paw out of."

3. Chuffy

What It Meant: Surly or impolite

If someone is short with you, tell them they don’t have to be so chuffy. It’s a strange, old word with obscure origins, and one that sounds a bit softer than “jerk.”

4. Scranch

What It Meant: To crack something between your teeth

Though this apparently “vulgar” term sounds like it was named after what it sounds like to crack something with your teeth, it supposedly comes from the Dutch word, schransen.

5. Gut-foundered

What It Meant: Very Hungry

This word, which dates to 1647, is believed to be regional Newfoundland slang. Gut-foundered could easily become a new hyperbole for us pampered moderns to employ, like “starving.”

6. Fishy

What It Meant: Drunk

Possibly no one invented more ways to say “drunk” than colonial Americans. Benjamin Franklin alone compiled 200 ways to say it. Fishy was meant to also imply the way the drinker looked: “Bleary eyes and turned-down mouth corners make a drunk resemble a fish,” writes Richard M. Lederer, Jr. at American Heritage.

7. Macaroni

What It Meant: Fancy

When Yankee Doodle called that feather hat “macaroni,” he wasn’t being a weirdo. Macaroni was a term used at the time to refer to a particular men’s fashion from England that was intentionally flashy, over-the-top, and androgynous.

8. Twistical

What It Meant: Unfair or immoral

This word—which according to 1848’s Dictionary of Americanisms was primarily used in New England—feels like it could just as easily have been invented today. Slip it into conversation in the next time you experience something unjust.

9. Savvy, Savey, or Sabby

What It Meant: To know or understand

While we still use this word to mean something like “literate” (computer-savvy), in Colonial times, it was actually used more like the way Jack Sparrow uses it. So you might say, “I don’t want to come to work anymore, savvy that?” According to Merriam-Webster, it’s derived from sabe, which means “he knows” in Portuguese. This became sabi in Creole, and later, “savvy.”

10. Adam’s Ale

What It Meant: Water

If you’re feeling thirsty for water, try using this slang term that was popular on both sides of the pond in the Colonial era. To quote a 1792 American poem by Philip Freneau, “In reason’s scale his actions weigh’d / His spirits want no foreign aid / Long life is his, in vigour passes / A spring that never grew stale / Such virtue lies in Adam’s Ale.”

11. Shaver

What It Meant: A young or adolescent boy

To call a boy a shaver was to imply that they were young enough that they just started shaving. Which is fitting, if a little condescending—like they’re not embarrassed enough already!

12. Jollification

What It Meant: Celebration or merrymaking

It's hard to even say jollification without sounding like a reenactor at Colonial Williamsburg. And though jollification sounds like it would be a good thing, it seems like there was also such a thing as too much jollification: The August 10, 1772 edition of The Pennsylvania Packet used the word in a morality tale about a man named Hilario: "What jolification [sic] could be complete without Hilario? Cards succeeded cards every morning to invite him to dinner, to routs, to dances; his only excuse was prior engagement, and he had not resolution to withstand the temptations.” By the end of the tale, according to Children In Colonial America, "a life of cards, women, and wanton spending slowly whittled away his wealth ... no woman would marry him, and even his good looks had failed him."

13. Simon Pure

What It Meant: The real deal, authentic, untainted

A delightful phrase that rolls off the tongue and could be dropped into many modern sentences. And when someone asks you, “who the heck is Simon?” you tell them that Simon Pure was a Quaker character who has to prove he’s the real Simon Pure in a 1718 play by Susanna Centlivre called A Bold Stroke for a Wife.

14. Circumbendibus

What It Meant: Roundabout

Of all the ways to describe something unnecessarily roundabout— like someone telling a rambling story or taking a weird road when driving somewhere—this word, which dates to 1681, might be the most delightful. It also shows how much we fun we had and still have with language, combining prefixes and suffixes to make new words.

Joe Gillard is the author of The Little Book of Lost Words, and the founder of History Hustle.

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