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October 22, 2007 7:28 PM   Subscribe

45 bits of not-so known trivia, much of it word related.

uncited
posted by edgeways (77 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Ramses brand condom is named after the great Phaoroh Ramses
II who fathered over 160 children.


Does that brand still exist?

The letters KGB stand for Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti.

Ohhhhh, I get it now!
posted by ALongDecember at 7:35 PM on October 22, 2007


To “testify” was based on men in the Roman court swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles.

I guess that is why it is called a witness box.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 7:37 PM on October 22, 2007


And much of it also apocryphal, eg:

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

and

It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

... both refuted by Mythbusters.
posted by kcds at 7:39 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


“Underground” is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters “und.”

Some of these facts are spurious, but that one is undeniabund.
posted by tepidmonkey at 7:42 PM on October 22, 2007 [8 favorites]


“Underground” is the only word in the English language that begins and ends with the letters “und.”

How about "underfund?"
posted by cerebus19 at 7:42 PM on October 22, 2007 [18 favorites]


Oh, good one.
posted by tepidmonkey at 7:44 PM on October 22, 2007


And the very popular undertakerfund, for poor and distressed brother undertakers.

45 people who would send me a list of FACTS just like this one:

1. That woman my wife worked with for a while, and can't really remember now.

2. Uncle Bob.

3. Sylvia from accounting.

(etc., etc.)
posted by yhbc at 7:47 PM on October 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


To “testify” was based on men in the Roman court swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles.

Bogus.
posted by cerebus19 at 7:47 PM on October 22, 2007


Nice. We can get e-mail forwards on the internet now.
posted by Floydd at 7:47 PM on October 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


The veracity of that post has been undund!
posted by not_on_display at 7:47 PM on October 22, 2007


Well, I can name at least 591 other people who know these bits of trivia.
posted by flatluigi at 7:49 PM on October 22, 2007


Fact 46: Most "facts" in list form are not.
posted by The Deej at 7:49 PM on October 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


If you liked that list you would probably like the hot for words youtuber. You'll also like it if you like hot chicks.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 PM on October 22, 2007


The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.
Not true. I hold the copyright on that word. Reproduce it at your peril!
posted by Floydd at 7:51 PM on October 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


When I was younger it was my ambition to sneeze with my eyes open. I eventually, after much practice, succeeded. I was half expecting my eyeballs to pop out and shoot across the room, but they didn't.

It is very, very difficult, and somewhat unnerving, but it IS possible.

I never did it again and don't intend to.
posted by unSane at 7:51 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'd like to take this opportunity to ask all of you to donate to my newly created "undertakerfund." Give until it hurts.

Until it hurts you, not me.
posted by ColdChef at 7:52 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


*ahem* Prior art, chef, although I was thinking of you when I came up with the concept.
posted by yhbc at 7:54 PM on October 22, 2007


Wait a minute, Steely Dan was named after Clem Snide!?
posted by Floydd at 7:54 PM on October 22, 2007


Also, by the third or fourth time I'd seen a list like this in my email, back in 1994 or so, my friends and I made up a list of crap that "SOUNDED" like it just might be true, but were all entirely false. And then we forwarded it to every list we could.

One day, I hope to get it sent back to me. Come back to daddy, baby. Come back.
posted by ColdChef at 7:54 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I knew something was up from the beginning: "squirreled"* is a longer word than "screeched" and it's still monosyllabic.

* Think "to have something squirreled away"
posted by jedicus at 7:57 PM on October 22, 2007


Duelling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.
Broadswords.
In a pit.
posted by Floydd at 7:57 PM on October 22, 2007


In most advertisments, including newspapers, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.

Huh. We were told to use 10:08.
posted by bunglin jones at 7:57 PM on October 22, 2007


This is why only 4 people have my real email address.
posted by 517 at 7:58 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


The first fact is only half-true. "strengths" ties "screeched" for length in the monosyllabic department.
posted by pmbuko at 7:59 PM on October 22, 2007


A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.
Debunked.
posted by Floydd at 8:01 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of lore when the engines were pulled by horses.The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

Oh, so a gate would have been an impossible addition to the building?

Days of lore? Days of bullshit if you ask me.
posted by mattoxic at 8:03 PM on October 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


I was half expecting my eyeballs to pop out and shoot across the room
It's all right; once the optic nerve reaches full extension, they recoil and snap back into place.
posted by Abiezer at 8:05 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why even bother with a gate? A horse’s eye is bigger than its brain. Because I said so.
posted by tepidmonkey at 8:05 PM on October 22, 2007


The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days of lore when the engines were pulled by horses.The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

O.K., only a dumbass would spend this much time on a such a dumbass post.
I'm outa here.
posted by Floydd at 8:06 PM on October 22, 2007


underground

Um, gerund?
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:07 PM on October 22, 2007


Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for that reason.

What? Because otherwise they'd have stepped quietly back from that shield before hopping/running away?
posted by bunglin jones at 8:08 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


GAH! I meant undgerund of course!
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:09 PM on October 22, 2007


Wait a minute, wait a minute - now I'm thinking edgeways knew this was a complete bullshit post (hence his "uncited" more-inside) and only posted this to watch us all fall over each other to debunk the list and snark audibly.

That bastard. That clever, clever bastard.

GET HIM!!!!
posted by yhbc at 8:09 PM on October 22, 2007


At least this list didn't include the meaning of the word "GOLF" like all the rest do.
posted by mattoxic at 8:09 PM on October 22, 2007


The longest one-syllable word in the English language is
“screeched.”


Oh noes.

The first fact is only half-true. "strengths" ties "screeched" for length in the monosyllabic department.

A Latin professor of mine claimed that "strenghts" is the longest word in the English language with just one vowel.
posted by ericb at 8:09 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hooray for word facts! Most of these are not too original though, and some are flat-out wrong.

"A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds."

(Mefi's own) Mythbusters busted this.

"There are only four words in the English language which end in”-dous” tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous."

Jeopardous.

“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters
“mt”.


Undreamt. Daydreamt.

"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, ere, therein, herein."


Hmm. How about an eight letter word? Foresaid: for, fore, fores, or, ore, ores, said, aid, id, a.

Weirdly enough, there was another post with this title under a month ago (except that it was spelled wrong).
posted by painquale at 8:09 PM on October 22, 2007


The Muppet Wiki has an entire section on the "Bert & Ernie" myth, I'm pleased to note.
posted by ormondsacker at 8:13 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now I'm ferklempt.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:18 PM on October 22, 2007


This is like QI without the buzzers or the funny.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:18 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


And here's our blog author on how our taxes pay for stinkin' funny-talking immigrants to come over and take our jobs. Did we research this at all, edgeways?
posted by ormondsacker at 8:20 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


My OED says that the Latin "testis" means both witness and testicle but that the two words are probably unrelated.

Does anyone know if the Romans actually swore on their balls?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:25 PM on October 22, 2007


Does anyone know if the Romans actually swore on their balls?
Couldn't tell you, but I know the Goths admit responsibility for the Sack of Rome.
posted by Abiezer at 8:39 PM on October 22, 2007 [5 favorites]


Here's the link (your ability to access JSTOR may vary) to the most usually accepted article on the subject of testis in the senses of both "witness" and "testicle": Testimonia Ritus Italici: Male Genitalia, Solemn Declarations, and a New Latin Sound Law Joshua T. Katz Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 98. (1998), pp. 183-217.
posted by zeugitai_guy at 8:52 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


47. Donald Duck is a shirtcocker.
posted by redteam at 9:07 PM on October 22, 2007


They call me an old fart because I'm silent but deadly.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:12 PM on October 22, 2007


The name for Oz in the “Wizard of Oz” was thought up when the creator, Frank Baum, looked at his filing cabinet and saw A-N, and O-Z, hence “Oz.”

Wrong! Not so fast. "Oz" stands for ounce, as in an ounce of gold. Yellow brick road...get it? Okay, then, read this. And this. The Wizard of Oz is a highly symbolic (and very clever) allegory of American business/politics at the turn of the century.
posted by zardoz at 9:23 PM on October 22, 2007


Here was my response. Some of these were mentioned above.

A lot of these things are stupid, false or just reiterate etymological urban legends.

Here are some examples, which took me three minutes to check:

“Underground” is the only word in the English language that
begins and ends with the letters “und.”


What about underfund? It's even more compact.

UNDERFUND
from American Heritage Dictionary
un·der·fund (ŭn'dər-fŭnd') Pronunciation Key
tr.v. un·der·fund·ed, un·der·fund·ing, un·der·funds
To provide insufficient funding for.

The longest one-syllable word in the English language is
“screeched.”


Off the top of my head, "scrunched" and "scratched" are equally as long.

“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters
“mt”.


"Undreamt" is listed as a variant of "undreamed" in most dictionaries, just as "dreamt" is listed as a variant of "dreamed."

There are only four words in the English language which end
in”-dous” tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.


Exactly! Except for "annelidous," "apodous," "discordous," "frondous," "hybridous," "infandous," "iodous," "jeopardus," "molybdous" and "nefandous."

In my response, I forgot to mention that the source of Steely Dan's name is found in "Naked Lunch," not "THE Naked Lunch."
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:00 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Unkempt. The "p" doesn't count.
posted by agropyron at 10:04 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]



Wrong! Not so fast. "Oz" stands for ounce, as in an ounce of gold. Yellow brick road...get it? Okay, then, read this. And this. The Wizard of Oz is a highly symbolic (and very clever) allegory of American business/politics at the turn of the century.


Discounting your puzzling implication that a work of literature can have a single correct interpretation, neither of these readings are credible or even interesting. Though the Littlefield one has some quaint curio value.
posted by nasreddin at 10:06 PM on October 22, 2007


jedicus, squirreled is monosyllabic?
posted by emelenjr at 10:15 PM on October 22, 2007


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, testimony may derive from the Latin word testa, meaning "pot" or "shell," perhaps suggesting that early Roman witnesses swore on the same. However, the OED officially lists the etymology as "uncertain."
posted by saslett at 10:16 PM on October 22, 2007


jedicus, squirreled is monosyllabic?

Wikipedia seems to think so. For what it's worth, I first heard 'squirreled' from a different source.

Figures that Wikipedia would have a whole page on just that topic.
posted by jedicus at 10:26 PM on October 22, 2007


This list is superfluous.
posted by Esoquo at 10:33 PM on October 22, 2007


Superfludous*
posted by Esoquo at 10:43 PM on October 22, 2007


squirreled is monosyllabic?

It is if'n you pronounce it "squoiled".
posted by Wolof at 10:54 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey, hey! Wanna know something? It's a fact! There's this boy in my classroom and one day at school he stepped on an ant and then the ant died, but then it got reincarnated as an alligator and it went and bit his head off and I never saw the boy since. Scary, eh? It's a fact!
posted by stavrogin at 11:07 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


These guys smoke. And they're bad. And you know what? They taught a dog to smoke. Do you believe that?
posted by stavrogin at 11:12 PM on October 22, 2007


... reincarnated as an alligator...
posted by Wolof at 11:12 PM on October 22, 2007


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.”


Forgive a yank his ignorance, but aren't the ough in "dough" and "Scarbarough" pronounced the same?
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:54 PM on October 22, 2007


fingers_of_fire, "dough" rhymes with "hoe"; Scarbrough is pronounced something like "ska-bruh". you really need someone who can write those little phonetic characters to explain this, but I hope you get what I mean
posted by bunglin jones at 12:04 AM on October 23, 2007


God is dead.

Cited
.
posted by stavrogin at 1:09 AM on October 23, 2007


Forgive a yank his ignorance, but aren't the ough in "dough" and "Scarbarough" pronounced the same?

Not necessarily. Proper names in Britain are often pronounced in really strange ways.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:00 AM on October 23, 2007


Nothing like, the way I say them - dough = doe as in deer, Scarborough as "Scar-bruh".
/Mr Cholmondely-Featherstonehaugh
posted by Abiezer at 2:11 AM on October 23, 2007


Suck it, Chumley-Fanshaw.
posted by Wolof at 4:26 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ugh.

“Discounting your puzzling implication that a work of literature can have a single correct interpretation”

The genesis of Baum's decision to name “Oz” is not a matter of literary interpretation, it's a matter of historical fact.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:03 AM on October 23, 2007


‘Stewardesses’ is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.

Apparently they haven't seen me type.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:12 AM on October 23, 2007


re:squirreled

I seem to remember from my college linguistics class that the schwa-r sound (as in the middle of "bird") is considered a single vowel sound instead of a vowel-consonant series. If we represent this sound with the ampersand (because I don't remember what the actual symbol is), you could phonetically spell squirreled as "skw&ld," which I suppose is one syllable.

Somebody knowledgeable, please correct my half-baked memories of college if I'm wrong.
posted by HeroZero at 7:16 AM on October 23, 2007


Wow, I can't believe this didn't get deleted.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:01 AM on October 23, 2007


The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar
tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.


Poof! A microwave appeared.
posted by ORthey at 9:16 AM on October 23, 2007


Dermatoglyphics has also fifteen letter, none repeated.
posted by StephenF at 9:25 AM on October 23, 2007


not so sure about "testify"
"1377, "to serve as evidence of," from L. testificari "bear witness," from testis "witness" (see testament) + root of facere "to make" (see factitious). Biblical sense of "openly profess one's faith and devotion" is attested from 1526."
posted by thisisdrew at 10:05 AM on October 23, 2007


“Underground” is the only word in the English language that
begins and ends with the letters “und.”

What about underfund? It's even more compact.


Or ground. Heck, fund.
posted by phatkitten at 10:23 AM on October 23, 2007


Oh, wow. I totally didn't read that correctly. Go me!
posted by phatkitten at 10:24 AM on October 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The first fact is only half-true. "strengths" ties "screeched" for length in the monosyllabic department.

Also, 'straights' (as in "gays and...")
posted by straight at 11:34 AM on October 23, 2007


Yes, but did you know that there is a floating island of garbage TWICE the size of Texas in the Pacific?

Link
posted by Debaser626 at 11:35 AM on October 23, 2007


Wrong! Not so fast. "Oz" stands for ounce, as in an ounce of gold. Yellow brick road...get it? Okay, then, read this. And this. The Wizard of Oz is a highly symbolic (and very clever) allegory of American business/politics at the turn of the century.
posted by zardoz


Now that's eponysterical.
posted by straight at 11:36 AM on October 23, 2007


...the schwa-r sound (as in the middle of "bird") is considered a single vowel sound instead of a vowel-consonant series....you could phonetically spell squirreled as "skw&ld," which I suppose is one syllable.

To me, the point of contention is whether the "l" is syllabic (so the phonetic breakdown would be roughly skw&.ld), which in my dialect it is.
posted by kittyprecious at 5:18 PM on October 23, 2007


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