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26 Things You Might Not Know Were Named After Places

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You know the names. You might not know where they came from.

1. Cheddar Cheese
This ubiquitous cheese gets its name from the town of Cheddar in southwest England. Unlike other cheeses named for their town of origin, like Gorgonzola and Parmesan, Cheddar is not covered by a Protected Designation of Origin, which means no matter where it is produced it can still legally be called Cheddar cheese.

2. Duffel Bags
While the phrase duffel bag now stands for a particular style of bag, they were originally named for the thick Duffel cloth they were made out of, which was produced in the town of Duffel, Belgium. Duffle coats are named for the same cloth.

3. Lyme Disease
While this disease has been present for thousands of years, it wasn’t until a large outbreak of cases in the towns of Lyme and Old Lyme, Connecticut, during the 1970s that the full syndrome was recognized.

4. Chihuahuas
These popular tiny dogs get their name from the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, where excavations of pottery bearing their likeness prove the breed was in the area more than 1,400 years before the first Europeans arrived.

5. The Rosetta Stone
This invaluable stone, which led to the understanding of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, was rediscovered by Napoleon’s forces in the Egyptian town of Rashid, or as the French called it, Rosette (Rosetta.)

6. Rugby
According to legend, this sport was invented when a pupil at Rugby School in England picked up the ball and ran with it during a soccer game. What is certain is that the first written rules for the game originated at the school in 1845.

7. Turquoise
This semi-precious stone was originally mined in Persia, but got its name from the French word for the Turkish merchants who first sold it in Europe. Turkeys (the birds) originated in America but get their name for the same reason.

8. Jalapeños
While known in its native Mexico as huachinango or chile gordo, to the rest of the world Jalapeños get their name from the town of Xalapa or Jalapa.

Pony image via Shutterstock

9. Shetland Ponies
These small ponies are native to the Shetland Islands located northeast of mainland Scotland. Their stocky build made them perfect for the harsh climate of the subarctic islands, where their ancestors have been kept and bred since the Bronze Age.

10. The Tuxedo
We owe the popularity of this formal dinner jacket to King Edward VII, but the name is all American. When an American friend of the then-Prince of Wales wore the new style to the Tuxedo Park Club in New York, the style caught on among the members, and the jacket became synonymous with the club.

11. Sherry
This fortified wine is named for the Anglican version of its town of origin, Jerez (or Xeres) de la Frontera in Spain. Like champagne, sherry is a Protected Designation of Origin, and only wine from that area of Spain can be labeled sherry in Europe.

12. Paisley
The distinctive paisley pattern is originally from India or Persia, and has been in use in the Middle East and Asia since around 200 AD. When its European popularity boomed and imports couldn’t keep up with the demand, various cities produced their own, including the town of Paisley in Scotland.

13. Chantilly Lace
Famous in popular culture for the Big Bopper’s hit of the same name in 1958, this style of lace-making dates to the 1600s. While the majority of the lace was actually produced elsewhere, it gets its name from the town of Chantilly in France.

14. Marathons
The name for the 26.2 mile race famously comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek runner who supposedly ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to announce that they had defeated the Persians in battle.

15. Rottweilers
These large dogs are named for the town they originated in, Rottweil in Germany, where they were used to herd livestock and pull carts.

16. Hamburgers
Minced beef originated in Europe in the 1400s. When immigrants from Germany came to America, they brought the popular “Hamburg steak,” cheap patties mixed with spices made famous by that seaside town.

17. Lesbianism
The term lesbian was first used to describe gay women in the 1890s, for the Greek island of Lesbos. That's where the ancient poet Sappho lived with, and wrote about her love for, a group of women. In 2008, inhabitants of the island tried to “reclaim” the name in court, insisting that only people from Lesbos fit the term.

18. The Ebola virus
This deadly disease was named in 1976 for the Ebola River in Zaire, which was near where the first outbreak occurred.

Pilsner image via Shutterstock

19. Pilsner Beer
This pale lager was created in response to the dissatisfaction with the quality of beer in the present-day Czech Republic during the early 1800s. In 1842, a brewer in the town of Pilsen created a new style of beer that was a big hit.

20. Balaclavas
The favorite headgear of skiers and robbers alike, the balaclava was worn by English troops unaccustomed to the bitter cold Russian weather during the Crimean War. Despite not being called balaclavas until almost 30 years later, the name comes from the town of the same name in present-day Ukraine where an important battle was fought.

21. Varnish
The resin from ancient forests was first used to make varnish in Berenice, Libya, which eventually became Vernix in Latin, from which we get the modern word.

22. Ascot/Cravat
The must-have neckband of the well-to-do in the 1800s, the ascot is a type of cravat named for its pervasive presence at the Ascot Racecourse in England. The cravat itself is named for the French word for Croatia, natives of which popularized the style at the court of Louis XIII.

23. Uranium
Despite having nothing to do with Uranus, in 1789 German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth named this newly discovered element after the seventh planet, which had itself been discovered only eight years before.

24. Denim
The popular fabric was originally a variation on a serge fabric made by the André family in Nîmes, France. The name “serge de Nîmes” was eventually shortened to denim.

25. The Charleston
One of the biggest dance crazes of all time, the Charleston was popularized in a song of the same name in the 1923 Broadway show Runnin' Wild. While the choreography for the show was most likely original, the style came from the Juba dance moves that originated among slaves on plantations, variations of which remained popular with African-Americans in southern cities like Charleston, South Carolina.

26. Limousine

Limo image via Shutterstock

The first limos, built in 1902, got their name from the French region Limousin, either because people thought the cloth covering on the back of the cars resembled the distinctive hoods worn by the shepherds there, or because limousine drivers wore similar cloaks to protect themselves from the elements.

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6 Times There Were Ties at the Oscars
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Only six ties have ever occurred during the Academy Awards' near-90-year history. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members vote for nominees in their corresponding categories; here are the six times they have come to a split decision.

1. BEST ACTOR // 1932

Back in 1932, at the fifth annual Oscars ceremony, the voting rules were different than they are today. If a nominee received an achievement that came within three votes of the winner, then that achievement (or person) would also receive an award. Actor Fredric March had one more vote than competitor Wallace Beery, but because the votes were so close, the Academy honored both of them. (They beat the category’s only other nominee, Alfred Lunt.) March won for his performance in horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (female writer Frances Marion won Best Screenplay for the film), and Beery won for The Champ, which was remade in 1979 with Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight. Both Beery and March were previous nominees: Beery was nominated for The Big House and March for The Royal Family of Broadway. March won another Oscar in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives, also a Best Picture winner. Fun fact: March was the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror film.

2. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT // 1950

By 1950, the above rule had been changed, but there was still a tie at that year's Oscars. A Chance to Live, an 18-minute movie directed by James L. Shute, tied with animated film So Much for So Little. Shute’s film was a part of Time Inc.’s "The March of Time" newsreel series and chronicles Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing putting together a Boys’ Home in Italy. Directed by Bugs Bunny’s Chuck Jones, So Much for So Little was a 10-minute animated film about America’s troubling healthcare situation. The films were up against two other movies: a French film named 1848—about the French Revolution of 1848—and a Canadian film entitled The Rising Tide.

3. BEST ACTRESS // 1969

Probably the best-known Oscars tie, this was the second and last time an acting award was split. When presenter Ingrid Bergman opened up the envelope, she discovered a tie between newcomer Barbra Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn—both received 3030 votes. Streisand, who was 26 years old, tied with the 61-year-old The Lion in Winter star, who had already been nominated 10 times in her lengthy career, and won the Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hepburn was not in attendance, so all eyes fell on Funny Girl winner Streisand, who wore a revealing, sequined bell-bottomed-pantsuit and gave an inspired speech. “Hello, gorgeous,” she famously said to the statuette, echoing her first line in Funny Girl.

A few years earlier, Babs had received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, but didn’t win. At this point in her career, she was a Grammy-winning singer, but Funny Girl was her movie debut (and what a debut it was). In 1974, Streisand was nominated again for The Way We Were, and won again in 1977 for her and Paul Williams’s song “Evergreen,” from A Star is Born. Four-time Oscar winner Hepburn won her final Oscar in 1982 for On Golden Pond.

4. BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE // 1987

The March 30, 1987 telecast made history with yet another documentary tie, this time for Documentary Feature. Oprah presented the awards to Brigitte Berman’s film about clarinetist Artie Shaw, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, and to Down and Out in America, a film about widespread American poverty in the ‘80s. Former Oscar winner Lee Grant (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1976 for Shampoo) directed Down and Out and won the award for producers Joseph Feury and Milton Justice. “This is for the people who are still down and out in America,” Grant said in her acceptance speech.

5. BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) // 1995

More than 20 years ago—the same year Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump—the Short Film (Live Action) category saw a tie between two disparate films: the 23-minute British comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the LGBTQ youth film Trevor. Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi wrote and directed the former, which stars Richard E. Grant (Girls, Withnail & I) as Kafka. The BBC Scotland film envisions Kafka stumbling through writing The Metamorphosis.

Trevor is a dramatic film about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide. Written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski, the film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project to help gay youths in crisis. “We made our film for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider,” Rajski said in her acceptance speech, which came after Capaldi's. “It celebrates all those who make it through difficult times and mourns those who didn’t.” It was yet another short film ahead of its time.

6. BEST SOUND EDITING // 2013

The latest Oscar tie happened only three years ago, when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall beat Argo, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi in sound editing. Mark Wahlberg and his animated co-star Ted presented the award to Zero Dark Thirty’s Paul N.J. Ottosson and Skyfall’s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers. “No B.S., we have a tie,” Wahlberg said to the crowd, assuring them he wasn’t kidding. Ottosson was announced first and gave his speech before Hallberg and Baker Landers found out that they were the other victors.

It wasn’t any of the winners' first trip to the rodeo: Ottosson won two in 2010 for his previous collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing); Hallberg previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for Braveheart in 1996, and in 2008 both Hallberg and Baker Landers won Best Achievement in Sound Editing for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ottosson told The Hollywood Reporter he possibly predicted his win: “Just before our category came up another fellow nominee sat next to me and I said, ‘What if there’s a tie, what would they do?’ and then we got a tie,” Ottosson said. Hallberg also commented to the Reporter on his win. “Any time that you get involved in some kind of history making, that would be good.”

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11 Haunting Facts About Beloved

Toni Morrison—who was born on February 18, 1931—made a name for herself with The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon, but it wasn’t until 1987’s Beloved, about a runaway slave haunted by the death of her infant daughter, that her legacy was secured. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and was a key factor in the decision to award Morrison the Nobel Prize in 1993. All the awards aside, Beloved is a testament to the horrors of slavery, with its narrative of suffering and repressed memory and its dedication to the more than 60 million who died in bondage. Here are some notable facts about Morrison’s process and the novel’s legacy.

1. IT’S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

While compiling research for 1974's The Black Book, Morrison came across the story of Margaret Garner, a runaway slave from Kentucky who escaped with her husband and four children to Ohio in 1856. A posse caught up with Garner, who killed her youngest daughter and attempted to do the same to her other children rather than let them return to bondage. Once apprehended, her trial transfixed the nation. "She was very calm; she said, 'I’d do it again,'" Morrison told The Paris Review. "That was more than enough to fire my imagination."

2. MORRISON CAME UP WITH THE CHARACTER BELOVED AFTER SHE STARTED WRITING.

The book was originally going to be about the haunting of Sethe by her infant daughter, who she killed (just as Garner did) rather than allow her to return to slavery. A third of the way through writing, though, Morrison realized she needed a flesh-and-blood character who could judge Sethe’s decision. She needed the daughter to come back to life in another form (some interpret it as a grief-driven case of mistaken identity). As she told the National Endowment for the Arts’ NEA Magazine: "I thought the only person who was legitimate, who could decide whether [the killing] was a good thing or not, was the dead girl."

3. SHE WROTE THE ENDING EARLY IN THE WRITING PROCESS.

Morrison has said she likes to know the ending of her books early on, and to write them down once she does. With Beloved, she wrote the ending about a quarter of the way in. "You are forced into having a certain kind of language that will keep the reader asking questions," she told author Carolyn Denard in Toni Morrison: Conversations.

4. MORRISON BECAME FASCINATED WITH SMALL HISTORICAL DETAILS.

To help readers understand the particulars of slavery, Morrison carefully researched historical documents and artifacts. One particular item she became fascinated with: the "bit" that masters would put in slaves' mouths as punishment. She couldn’t find much in the way of pictures or descriptions, but she found enough to imagine the shame slaves would feel. In Beloved, Paul D. tells Sethe that a rooster smiled at him while he wore the bit, indicating that he felt lower than a barnyard animal.

5. SHE ONLY RECENTLY READ THE BOOK HERSELF.

In an appearance on The Colbert Report last year, Morrison said she finally got around to reading Beloved after almost 30 years. Her verdict: "It’s really good!"

6. THE BOOK INSPIRED READERS TO BUILD BENCHES.

When accepting an award from the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1988, Morrison observed that there is no suitable memorial to slavery, "no small bench by the road." Inspired by this line, the Toni Morrison Society started the Bench by the Road Project to remedy the issue. Since 2006, the project has placed 15 benches in locations significant to the history of slavery and the Civil Rights movement, including Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, which served as the point of entry for 40% of slaves brought to America.

7. WHEN BELOVED DIDN’T WIN THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN 1987, FELLOW WRITERS PROTESTED.

After the snub, 48 African-American writers, including Maya Angelou, John Edgar Wideman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., signed a letter that appeared in the New York Times Book Review. "For all of America, for all of American letters," the letter addressing Morrison read, "you have advanced the moral and artistic standards by which we must measure the daring and the love of our national imagination and our collective intelligence as a people."

8. IT’S ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY CHALLENGED BOOKS.

Between 2000 and 2009, Beloved ranked 26th on the American Library Association’s list of most banned/challenged books. A recent challenge in Fairfax County, Virginia, cited the novel as too intense for teenage readers, while another challenge in Michigan said the book was, incredibly, overly simplistic and pornographic. Thankfully, both challenges were denied.

9. MORRISON ALSO WROTE AN OPERA BASED ON GARNER’S LIFE.

Ten years ago, Morrison collaborated with Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour on Margaret Garner, an opera about the real-life inspiration behind Beloved. It opened in Detroit in 2005, and played in Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York before closing in 2008.

10. MORRISON DID NOT WANT IT MADE INTO A MOVIE.

Although she publicly claims otherwise, according to a New York magazine story, Morrison told friends she didn’t want Beloved made into a movie. And she didn’t want Oprah Winfrey (who bought the film rights in 1988) to be in it. Nevertheless, the film came out in 1998 and was a total flop.

11. THERE'S AN ILLUSTRATED VERSION.

The Folio Society, a London-based company that creates fancy special editions of classic books, released the first-ever illustrated Beloved in 2015. Artist Joe Morse had to be personally approved by Morrison for the project. Check out a few of his hauntingly beautiful illustrations here.

This article originally appeared in 2015.

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