48 Things You Didn't Know Had Names

So that's what it's called!

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1. Hi, I'm John Green. Welcome to my salon, this is mental_floss on YouTube. And this is my glabella - the area between my eyebrows. And that is just the first of many things that you may not have known had names, until today.

2. 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 and really became a word in 2011 when it popped up in a Doctor Who episode.

3. When I get that itching and tingling sensation, that means my foot's asleep - paresthesia.

4. Dysania means having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning but in my house, we call that Monday and also other days.

5. Doctors are notorious for "griffonage" or illegible handwriting.

6. The area between your shoulder blades that you can never scratch is called the acnestis.

7. Palindromes are words or phrases that read the same way forward or backward. Like "Mom" or "Taco Cat" or the sentence "Marge lets Norah see Sharons telegram."

8. But a Semordnilap reads one way forward, "stressed" and another way backward, "desserts." Other examples include diaper, parts and of course, semordnilap itself.

9. Aphthongs are silent letters in words like "knight" or "fight" or "Django." This might be something that you already "knew." By the way, never forget 6 miles of canoeing, one micromort.

10. If your house has a neatly manicured front lawn and an overgrown mess in the back, you've got yourself a "lawn mullet." That's not really a word, but we're into it.

11. Your "Googleganger" is the person with your name who shows up in Google search results when you Google yourself. Like, for me, there is a John Green who's known as one of the "Four Horsemen of Sasquatchery." Then there's John Green the realtor who has JohnGreen.com - my mortal enemy - and of course John Green with the mustache.

12. Fans of the television program Phineas and Ferb—which is to say humans—all know that those plastic or metal things at the end of shoelaces are called aglets.

13. But you might not know that the metal thing that holds your eraser to the end of your pencil is called a "ferrule" - not the wild cat kind, obviously.

14. When you're playing chess and every possible move is to your disadvantage, the situation is called a zugzwang. Which by the way, sometimes also happens when you're playing Connect Four. Zombie Fairy is in a bit of a zugzwang right now because if she goes over here, she's going to get attacked by Troll Face, over here by a pirate and up here, a bunch of dogs.

15. Scroop is the rustling swooshy sound that ballgowns make. More generally, its the sound produced by the movement of silk.

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

17. The plastic table-like item found in the middle of a pizza box is called a box tent and was patented in 1983. Pro Tip: Many people in the biz now call it a pizza saver. How do I know so much about pizza? You gotta have a forte in this world.

18. Kummerspeck is a German word that refers to excess weight gained from emotional over-eating. Its literal translation? Grief bacon. That's another 25 cents towards the staff pork chop party.

19. If you're packing on the Kummerspeck, you might be feeling crapulous. Though it sounds like a word invented by a middle-schooler in the 1990's, crapulous dates back to the 1530's when it was used to describe that gross nauseated feeling that you get from eating or drinking too much.

20. The small triangular bump on the inside corner of each eye is called the caruncula.

21. The depressed area of skin under your nose and above your upper lip is called the philtrum

22. And niddick is the technical term for the nape of your neck.

23. Obsessive nose picking is called rhinotillexomania.

24. Peladophobia is the fear of bald people. It is most frequently suffered by balding people. Don't worry James Madison, you die before you go bald.

25. Pentheraphobia is the fear of your mother-in-law which I don't have. I would tell you if I did. I don't. I promise, I don't. No, what are you talking about, I do not. No. No. She's awesome. She really is awesome actually.

26. Arachibutyrophobia is a real mouthful of a word that means the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.

27. Scandiknavery means deceit or trickery by Scandinavians. Like so many 20th century words, we have James Joyce to thank for that one. And of course, the deceitful Scandinavians.

28. The indent on the bottom of wine bottle is called a punt.

29. An agraffe is the wire cage that keeps the cork in a bottle of champagne.

30. Barm is the foam on a beer.

31. Encounter too many punts, agraffes, and barns in one night and you'll have the Zings or a peppy name for a hangover.

32. Some people have started calling the cardboard sleeve that comes wrapped around your coffee a zarf. I'm now going to be one of those people.

33. The string of typographical symbols that comic strips use to indicate profanity is called a grawlix. *#%* yeah it is! What are you going to do about that Mark? Oh, just bleep it?

34. A word that can be its own antonym is called a contronym. For example, cleave can mean to sever or to cling. What's that? You need four more examples? I will provide some. 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. And left can mean either remaining or departed.

35. When you're outside on a cold day and you can feel the warmth of the sun, you're experiencing a moment of apricity.

36. A compulsive book thief or hoarder is a biblioklept.

37. Thomas Edison had five dots, like the ones you see on dice, tattooed on his left forearm. This pattern is properly, although almost never, referred to as a quincunx. It is now gang affiliated making Tommy Edison an OG.

38. You probably already know the meaning of schadenfreude but another super-specific German word 'vorfreude' describes a kinder, less terrible feeling. The joy you feel when thinking about good things that will happen.

39. A person known by one name like Adele or Moby or Voltaire or Madonna, is mononymous. By the way, just for the record, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, Richard Melville Hall, Francois-Marie Arouet and Madonna, its just Madonna.

40. And let's run out the clock today with some old-timey collective nouns from James Lipton's wonderful book An Exaltation of Larks. A group of ponies is called a string.

41. An assembly of ferrets is a business, and it is very serious business indeed.

42. A group of jellyfish is a smack.

43. It's a gam of whales.

44. Murder of crows.

45. Unkindness of ravens.

46. Three or more goats and you've got yourself a trip. Three or more goats yelling like humans and you've got yourself a short-lived internet meme.

47. Many owls form a parliament.

48. And you might think that a group of donkeys is an ass-load but you'd be wrong. It's a pass of asses.

11 Things You May Not Know About John Lennon

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before he was one of the world's most iconic musicians, John Lennon was a choir boy and a Boy Scout. Let's take a look at a few facts you might not have known about the leader and founding member of The Beatles

1. HE WAS A CHOIR BOY AND A BOY SCOUT.

Yes, John Lennon, the great rock 'n' roll rebel and iconoclast, was once a choir boy and a Boy Scout. Lennon began his singing career as a choir boy at St. Peter's Church in Liverpool, England and was a member of the 3rd Allerton Boy Scout troop.

2. HE HATED HIS OWN VOICE.

Incredibly, one of the greatest singers in the history of rock music hated his own voice. Lennon did not like the sound of his voice and loved to double-track his records. He would often ask the band's producer, George Martin, to cover the sound of his voice: "Can't you smother it with tomato ketchup or something?"

3. HE WAS DISSATISFIED WITH ALL OF THE BEATLES'S RECORDS.

Dining with his former producer, George Martin, one night years after the band had split up, Lennon revealed that he'd like to re-record every Beatles song. Completely amazed, Martin asked him, "Even 'Strawberry Fields'?" "Especially 'Strawberry Fields,'" answered Lennon.

4. HE WAS THE ONLY BEATLE WHO DIDN'T BECOME A FULL-TIME VEGETARIAN.

John Lennon (1940 - 1980) of the Beatles plays the guitar in a hotel room in Paris, 16th January 1964
Harry Benson, Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

George Harrison was the first Beatle to go vegetarian; according to most sources, he officially became a vegetarian in 1965. Paul McCartney joined the "veggie" ranks a few years later. Ringo became a vegetarian not so much for spiritual reasons, like Paul and George, but because of health problems. Lennon had toyed with vegetarianism in the 1960s, but he always ended up eating meat, one way or another.

5. HE LOVED TO PLAY MONOPOLY.

During his Beatles days, Lennon was a devout Monopoly player. He had his own Monopoly set and often played in his hotel room or on planes. He liked to stand up when he threw the dice, and he was crazy about the properties Boardwalk and Park Place. He didn't even care if he lost the game, as long as he had Boardwalk and Park Place in his possession.

6. HE WAS THE LAST BEATLE TO LEARN HOW TO DRIVE.

Lennon got his driver's license at the age of 24 (on February 15, 1965). He was regarded as a terrible driver by all who knew him. He finally gave up driving after he totaled his Aston-Martin in 1969 on a trip to Scotland with his wife, Yoko Ono; his son, Julian; and Kyoko, Ono's daughter. Lennon needed 17 stitches after the accident.

When they returned to England, Lennon and Ono mounted the wrecked car on a pillar at their home. From then on, Lennon always used a chauffeur or driver.

7. HE REPORTEDLY USED TO SLEEP IN A COFFIN.

According to Allan Williams, an early manager for The Beatles, Lennon liked to sleep in an old coffin. Williams had an old, abandoned coffin on the premises of his coffee bar, The Jacaranda. As a gag, Lennon would sometimes nap in it.

8. THE LAST TIME HE SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY WAS ON APRIL 24, 1976. 

Paul McCartney (left) and John Lennon (1940-1980) of the Beatles pictured together during production and filming of the British musical comedy film Help! on New Providence Island in the Bahamas on 2nd March 1965
William Lovelace, Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

McCartney was visiting Lennon at his New York apartment. They were watching Saturday Night Live together when producer Lorne Michaels, as a gag, offered the Beatles $3000 to come on the show. Lennon and McCartney almost took a cab to the show as a joke, but decided against it, as they were just too tired. (Too bad! It would have been one of the great moments in television history.)

9. HE WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO SING LEAD ON THE BEATLES'S FIRST SINGLE, 1962'S "LOVE ME DO."

Lennon sang lead on a great majority of the early Beatles songs, but Paul McCartney took the lead on their very first one. The lead was originally supposed to be Lennon, but because he had to play the harmonica, the lead was given to McCartney instead.

10. "ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE" WAS THE BEST LYRIC HE EVER WROTE.

A friend once asked Lennon what was the best lyric he ever wrote. "That's easy," replied Lennon, "All you need is love."

11. THE LAST PHOTOGRAPHER TO SNAP HIS PICTURE WAS PAUL GORESH.

Ironically (and sadly), Lennon was signing an album for the person who was to assassinate him a few hours later when he was snapped by amateur photographer Paul Goresh on December 8, 1980.

Lennon obligingly signed a copy of his latest album, Double Fantasy, for Mark David Chapman. Later that same day, Lennon returned from the recording studio and was gunned down by Chapman, the same person for whom he had so kindly signed his autograph.

Morbidly, a photographer sneaked into the morgue and snapped a photo of Lennon's body before it was cremated the day after his assassination. Yoko Ono has never revealed the whereabouts of his ashes or what happened to them.

This post originally appeared in 2012.

11 Facts About Robert the Bruce, King of Scots

Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn
Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn
Edmund LeightonCassell and Company, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The subject of a recent Netflix original movie called Outlaw King, Robert the Bruce is one of Scotland’s great national heroes. Get to know King Bob a little better.

1. Robert the Bruce was a polyglot who loved telling stories.

He likely spoke Scots, Gaelic, Latin, and Norman French, and was an avid reader who loved studying the lives of previous monarchs. According to a parliamentary brief from around 1364, Robert the Bruce "used continually to read, or have read in his presence, the histories of ancient kings and princes, and how they conducted themselves in their times, both in wartime and in peacetime.” In his free time, he would recite tales about Charlemagne and Hannibal from memory.

2. Despite his reputation as Scotland’s savior, he spent years siding with England.

The Bruce family spent the 1290s complaining that they had been robbed of the Scottish Crown. That’s because, after the deaths of King Alexander III and his granddaughter Margaret, it was unclear who Scotland's next monarch should be. Debates raged until John Balliol was declared King in 1292. The Bruces, who had closer blood ties to the previous royal family (but not closer paternal ties) considered Balliol an usurper. So when tensions later flared between Balliol and Edward I of England, the resentful Bruces took England’s side.

3. He murdered his biggest political rival.

John Comyn is killed by Robert Bruce and Roger de Kirkpatrick before the high altar of the Greyfriars Church in Dumfries, 10 February 1306
Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

One of the leading figures standing in the way of Robert the Bruce’s path to Scotland’s throne was Balliol's nephew, John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch. In 1306, Robert arranged a meeting with Comyn in the Chapel of Greyfriars in Dumfries, Scotland. There, Robert accused Comyn of treachery and stabbed him. (And when word spread that Comyn had somehow survived, two of Robert’s cronies returned to the church and finished the deed, spilling Comyn’s blood on the steps of the altar.) Shortly after, Robert declared himself King of Scotland and started to plot an uprising against England.

4. He lived in a cave and was inspired by a very persistent spider.

The uprising did not go exactly according to plan. After Robert the Bruce killed Comyn in a church, Pope Clement V excommunicated him. To add salt to his wounds, Robert's ensuing attempts to battle England became a total failure. In the winter of 1306, he was forced to flee Scotland and was exiled to a cave on Rathlin Island in Northern Ireland.

Legend has it that as Robert took shelter in the cave, he saw a spider trying—and failing—to spin a web. The creature kept attempting to swing toward a nearby rock and refused to give up. Bruce was so inspired by the spider’s tenacity that he vowed to return to Scotland and fight. Within three years, he was holding his first session of parliament.

5. He went to battle with a legion of ponies.

For battle, Robert the Bruce preferred to employ a light cavalry of ponies (called hobbies) and small horses (called palfreys) in a tactic known as hobelar warfare. In one famous story, a young English knight named Sir Henry de Bohun sat atop a large warhorse and saw Robert the Bruce mounted upon a palfrey. Bohun decided to charge. Robert saw his oncoming attacker and stood in his stirrups—putting him at the perfect height to swing a battleaxe at the oncoming horseman’s head. After slaying his opponent, the king reportedly complained, “I have broken my good axe.”

6. He loved to eat eels.

Robert the Bruce
iStock.com/fotoVoyager

Robert the Bruce’s physician, Maino de Maineri, criticized the king’s penchant for devouring eels. “I am certain that this fish should not be eaten because I have seen it during the time I was with the king of the Scots, Robert Bruce, who risked many dangers by eating [moray eels], which are by nature like lampreys," de Maineri wrote. "It is true that these [morays] were caught in muddy and corrupt waters.” (Notably, overeating eels was considered the cause of King Henry I England’s death.)

7. His underdog victory at Bannockburn proved that quality could defeat quantity.

In 1314, Robert the Bruce defeated King Edward II’s army at Bannockburn, sending England (as the popular anthem Flower of Scotland goes) “homeward tae think again.” It was a surprising victory; the English had about 2000 armored horsemen and 15,000 foot soldiers, compared to the Scots's 500 horsemen and 7000 foot soldiers. But Robert the Bruce used geography to his advantage, forcing the English to attempt crossing two large and boggy streams. The victory was a huge turning point in the Scottish War of Independence and would help secure Scotland's freedom.

8. He’s firmly intertwined with the Knights Templar mythology.

Treasure hunters speculate that in the 14th century, the Knights Templar fled to Scotland with a trove of valuables because they received support and protection from King Robert the Bruce. Thanks to his help, they say, the Knights were able to hide gold and holy relics—from ancient Gospel scrolls to the Holy Grail—in secret spots across the country (including in Rosslyn Chapel, of The Da Vinci Code fame). But there is little evidence to support these colorful myths. Templar scholar and medieval historian Helen Nicholson said that any remaining Knights Templar were likely hanging out in the balmy climes of Cyprus.

9. He’s still donating money to a Scottish church.

Robert the Bruce and Elizabeth de Burgh
Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux, Cassell, Petter & Galpin, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

After the death of his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, Robert the Bruce decreed to give the Auld Kirk in Cullen, Scotland—now the Cullen and Deskford Parish—a total of five Scots pounds every year. That's because, in 1327, Elizabeth had died after falling off a horse, and the local congregation generously took care of her remains. Robert was so touched by the gesture that he promised to donate money “for all eternity.” To this day, his bequest is still being paid.

10. Parts of his body are buried in multiple places.

Robert the Bruce died on June 7, 1329, just a month before his 55th birthday. The cause of his death has been a source of much discussion, and disagreement, but most modern scholars believe that he succumbed to leprosy. His funeral was a rather elaborate affair that required nearly 7000 pounds of candle wax just for the funerary candles. Following the fashion for royalty, he was buried in multiple places. His chest was sawed open and his heart and internal organs removed: The guts were buried near his death-place at the Manor of Cardross, near Dumbarton; his corpse interred in Dunfermline Abbey; and his heart placed inside a metal urn to be worn around the neck of Sir James Douglas, who promised to take it to the Holy Lord.

11. His heart was the original “Brave Heart.”

Unfortunately, Sir Douglas never made it to the Holy Land: He got sidetracked and took a detour to fight the Moors in Spain, where he was killed. Before his attackers reached him, Douglas reportedly threw the urn containing the king’s heart and yelled, “Lead on brave heart, I’ll follow thee.” The heart was soon returned to Scotland, where its location was forgotten until a team of archaeologists discovered it in 1921. It’s now interred in Melrose Abbey.

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