48 Things You Didn't Know Had Names

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Illegible handwriting is called griffonage. (Take note, doctors.)

6. Acnestis

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The bits at the ends of shoelaces are called aglets.

13. Ferrule

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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

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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

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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

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That thing you use to dot a lower case i is called a tittle.

17. Pizza saver

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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

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Kummerspeck is the excess weight you gain from emotional eating. Its literal translation? Grief bacon.

19. Crapulous

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The string of symbols comic strips use for profanity is called a grawlix. *#%* yeah it is!

34. Contronym

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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

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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

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

37. quincunx

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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

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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

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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

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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

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An assembly of ferrets is a business.

42. smack

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

43. gam

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A group of whale is a gam of whales. A gam is also a pleasant conversation between whalers.

44. murder

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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

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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

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Three or more goats is a trip. You can also call them a herd or a tribe.

47. Parliament

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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

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A group of donkeys is a pass: A pass of asses.

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What Is a Scuttlebutt, and Why Do We Like to Hear It?

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Casual conversation is home to a variety of prompts. You might ask someone how they’re doing, what’s new, or if they’ve done anything interesting recently. Sometimes, you can ask them what the scuttlebutt is. “What’s the scuttlebutt?” you’d say, for example, and then they’d reply with the solicited scuttlebutt.

We can easily infer that scuttlebutt is a slang term for information or maybe even gossip. But what exactly is scuttlebutt, and why did it become associated with idle water cooler talk?

According to Merriam-Webster, a scuttlebutt referred to a cask on sailing ships in the 1800s that contained drinking water for those on board. It was later used as the name of the drinking fountain found on a ship or in a Naval installation. The cask was known as a butt, while scuttle was taken from the French word escoutilles and means hatch or hole. A scuttlebutt was therefore a hatch in the cask.

Because sailors usually received orders from shouting supervisors, talking amongst themselves was discouraged. Since sailors could congregate around the fountain, it became a place to finally catch up and exchange gossip, making scuttlebutt synonymous with casual conversation. The scuttlebutt was really the only place to do it.

Nautical technology made the scuttlebutt obsolete, but the term endured, becoming a catch-all word for unfounded rumors.

The next time someone asks you what the scuttlebutt is, now you can tell them.

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