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'.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Seniors in a North Carolina Assisted Living Facility Are Looking for Pen Pals

Seniors in nursing homes are hoping to develop new friendships with pen pals.
Seniors in nursing homes are hoping to develop new friendships with pen pals.
MichaelShivers/iStock via Getty Images

Although coronavirus still holds many mysteries for the researchers working to understand it, one thing is certain: Older populations, particularly those in group living facilities, are at high risk of serious complications. Assisted living facilities around the country have largely shied away from allowing visitors, which means residents have little contact with anyone beyond staff.

Victorian Senior Care in North Carolina is looking to change that the old-fashioned way. They’re soliciting pen pals for their residents.

The facility, which has several locations throughout the state, has set up a program for residents looking to correspond with someone. Each person has a photo profile listing their name and interests. Enjoy video games? Then you might like exchanging letters with Robert at The Living Center of Concord. Know about farming and heavy farm equipment? Mr. Tom at The Village of Kingston is your man. Don’t mind an old rascal? Check out Leon at Montgomery Village, who likes “shag dancing” and “loves girls.”

You can find dozens more seniors who have a lot of life experience to share on the Victorian Care Center’s pen pal page. The program is already a success, with over 15,000 letters received to date. One location is even at letter capacity, as all the seniors looking for a new friend at their Phoenix Assisted Care location have a full dance card.

Other care facilities throughout the country are also hoping to match residents with pen pals. Ridgecrest Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Forney, Texas, has resident profiles on their Facebook page:

None of these facilities are offering email addresses, which means you’ll have to correspond like pen pals did for centuries—with pen and paper.

[h/t Victorian Senior Care]