The Origins Behind 30 Harry Potter Words and Spells

Mental Floss via YouTube
Mental Floss via YouTube

Muggle. Horcrux. Erised. Wingardium leviosa. To the outside world (or those aforementioned Muggles), Harry Potter fans seem to speak a language unto themselves. But in coming up with the unique words, phrases, and spells that define the Potterverse, J.K. Rowling often looked to the past—and to other languages—for her etymological cues.

In this edition of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is conjuring up the meaning behind dozens of words and spells from Harry Potter’s world.

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The Real Origins of 20 Scary Stories

Mental Floss via YouTube
Mental Floss via YouTube

Admit it: You've looked into the mirror and said "Bloody Mary" several times ... then momentarily worried that a vengeful ghost might appear and murder you. When and where did this terrifying tradition originate? While both Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Mary I (who was known as "Bloody Mary") have been cited as source of this particularly creepy piece of folklore, there's no evidence to support either claim. But we've got the real story.

In this all-new edition of "The List Show," Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy—decked out in her finest candy corn-covered duds—traces the origins of 20 scary stories, including which urban myths are aren't myths at all.

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24 Fascinating Facts About ASMR ("In" ASMR)

Mental Floss via YouTube
Mental Floss via YouTube

Does the sound of whispering trigger a sense of relaxation in your brain? What about paper-crinkling, finger-tapping, or Bob Ross talking about painting happy little trees? If simple actions like these give you "brain tingles," you may be experiencing a reaction known as autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR.

In this (very quiet) edition of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy dives into the fascinating world of ASMR, including what triggers it and who the most popular ASMRtist is out there today. So get comfortable and listen up.

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