Original image

Weekend Word Wrap

Original image

Welcome to the first in a series of Friday afternoon posts meant to hold you through the weekend. Because the blog is quiet on Saturday and Sunday, I figured parting words on Friday should thus be themed around the subject of "words" to a) make up for the lack of them, and b) give you knowledge to drop at the parties you'll be attending (note: As gratitude, I'm presently accepting invitations to such parties"¦).

Subjects of the "Weekend Word Wrap" will include: word-related trivia, scrabble strategy, idioms, use of the vernacular, acrostic fuel, elocution, etymology, anagram tips, acronym curiosities, pet grammar peeves, cryptic puzzle clues, and insight into how to express yourself in as few words as possible—something I am, so far, not doing very well.

This was a valuable lesson I first learned my freshman year of college. Captain of the Long Winded Club, (taking gold medals in all five of the run-on sentence competitions that year), I'd walk into my friend, Matthew's, dorm room and ask the following question:

"Matthew, would you like to go to the Commons and get some pizza?" "“ A serviceable, functional sentence with 16 syllables, right?

Meanwhile, Matthew's roommate, a taciturn fellow who managed to get all the girls with nothing more than a smile and a nod, succeeded in condensing my 16 syllable sentence into 2:

"Dude, za?"

And like that, I learned the significance of brevity.

So without further ado, allow me to get the ball rolling by introducing a couple new words, courtesy of the good folk over at Word Spy:

ringxiety (ring.ZY.uh.tee) n. 1. The confusion experienced by a group of people when a cell phone rings and no one is sure whose phone it is. 2. Mistaking a faint sound for the ringing of one's cell phone. (Citations)

godcasting pp. Podcasting an audio feed with a religious message. Also: Godcasting.
—godcast n.
—godcaster n. (Citations)

freemium adj. Relating to a business model that offers basic services free, but charges a premium for advanced or special features. (Citations)

Original image
Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
Original image

While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

Original image
Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
Original image

Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.


More from mental floss studios