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.

6 Facts About International Women's Day

iStock.com/robeo
iStock.com/robeo

For more than 100 years, March 8th has marked what has come to be known as International Women's Day in countries around the world. While its purpose differs from place to place—in some countries it’s a day of protest, in others it’s a way to celebrate the accomplishments of women and promote gender equality—the holiday is more than just a simple hashtag. Ahead of this year’s celebration, let’s take a moment to explore the day’s origins and traditions.

1. International Women's Day originated more than 100 years ago.

On February 28, 1909, the now-dissolved Socialist Party of America organized the first National Woman’s Day, which took place on the last Sunday in February. In 1910, Clara Zetkin—the leader of Germany’s 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party—proposed the idea of a global International Women’s Day, so that people around the world could celebrate at the same time. On March 19, 1911, the first International Women’s Day was held; more than 1 million people in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark took part.

2. The celebration got women the vote in Russia.

In 1917, women in Russia honored the day by beginning a strike for “bread and peace” as a way to protest World War I and advocate for gender parity. Czar Nicholas II, the country’s leader at the time, was not impressed and instructed General Khabalov of the Petrograd Military District to put an end to the protests—and to shoot any woman who refused to stand down. But the women wouldn't be intimidated and continued their protests, which led the Czar to abdicate just days later. The provisional government then granted women in Russia the right to vote.

3. The United Nations officially adopted International Women's Day in 1975.

In 1975, the United Nations—which had dubbed the year International Women’s Year—celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8th for the first time. Since then, the UN has become the primary sponsor of the annual event and has encouraged even more countries around the world to embrace the holiday and its goal of celebrating “acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

4. International Women's Day is an official holiday in dozens of countries.

International Women’s Day is a day of celebration around the world, and an official holiday in dozens of countries. Afghanistan, Cuba, Vietnam, Uganda, Mongolia, Georgia, Laos, Cambodia, Armenia, Belarus, Montenegro, Russia, and Ukraine are just some of the places where March 8th is recognized as an official holiday.

5. It’s a combined celebration with Mother’s Day in several places.

In the same way that Mother’s Day doubles as a sort of women’s appreciation day, the two holidays are combined in some countries, including Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Uzbekistan. On this day, children present their mothers and grandmothers with small gifts and tokens of love and appreciation.

6. Each year's festivities have an official theme.

In 1996, the UN created a theme for that year’s International Women’s Day: Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future. In 1997, it was “Women at the Peace Table,” then “Women and Human Rights” in 1998. They’ve continued this themed tradition in the years since; for 2019, it's “Better the balance, better the world” or #BalanceforBetter.

8 Enlightening Facts About Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Rachel Murray, Getty Images for Hulu
Rachel Murray, Getty Images for Hulu

For decades, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer has used television, radio, the written word, and the internet to speak frankly on topics relating to human sexuality, turning what were once controversial topics into healthy, everyday conversations.

At age 90, Westheimer shows no signs of slowing down. As a new documentary, Ask Dr. Ruth, gears up for release on Hulu this spring, we thought we’d take a look at Westheimer’s colorful history as an advisor, author, and resistance sniper.

1. The Nazis devastated her childhood.

Dr. Ruth was born Karola Ruth Siegel on June 4, 1928 in Wiesenfeld, Germany, the only child of Julius and Irma Siegel. When Ruth was just five years old, the advancing Nazi party terrorized her neighborhood and seized her father in 1938, presumably to shuttle him to a concentration camp. One year later, Karola—who eventually began using her middle name and took on the last name Westheimer with her second marriage in 1961—was sent to a school in Switzerland for her own protection. She later learned that her parents had both been killed during the Holocaust, possibly at Auschwitz.

2. She shocked classmates with her knowledge of taboo topics.

Westheimer has never been bashful about the workings of human sexuality. While working as a maid at an all-girls school in Switzerland, she made classmates and teachers gasp with her frank talk about menstruation and other topics that were rarely spoken of in casual terms.

3. She trained as a sniper for Jewish resistance fighters in Palestine.

Following the end of World War II, Westheimer left Switzerland for Israel, and later Palestine. She became a Zionist and joined the Haganah, an underground network of Jewish resistance fighters. Westheimer carried a weapon and trained as both a scout and sniper, learning how to throw hand grenades and shoot firearms. Though she never saw direct action, the tension and skirmishes could lapse into violence, and in 1948, Westheimer suffered a serious injury to her foot owing to a bomb blast. The injury convinced her to move into the comparatively less dangerous field of academia.

4. A lecture ignited her career.

 Dr. Ruth Westheimer participates in the annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC at Cantor Fitzgerald on September 11, 2015 in New York City.
Robin Marchant, Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald

In 1950, Westheimer married an Israeli soldier and the two relocated to Paris, where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne. Though the couple divorced in 1955, Westheimer's education continued into 1959, when she graduated with a master’s degree in sociology from the New School in New York City. (She received a doctorate in education from Columbia University in 1970.) After meeting and marrying Manfred Westheimer, a Jewish refugee, in 1961, Westheimer became an American citizen.

By the late 1960s, she was working at Planned Parenthood, where she excelled at having honest conversations about uncomfortable topics. Eventually, Westheimer found herself giving a lecture to New York-area broadcasters about airing programming with information about safe sex. Radio station WYNY offered her a show, Sexually Speaking, that soon blossomed into a hit, going from 15 minutes to two hours weekly. By 1983, 250,000 people were listening to Westheimer talk about contraception and intimacy.

5. People told her to lose her accent.

Westheimer’s distinctive accent has led some to declare her “Grandma Freud.” But early on, she was given advice to take speech lessons and make an effort to lose her accent. Westheimer declined, and considers herself fortunate to have done so. “It helped me greatly, because when people turned on the radio, they knew it was me,” she told the Harvard Business Review in 2016.

6. She’s not concerned about her height, either.

In addition to her voice, Westheimer became easily recognizable due to her diminutive stature. (She’s four feet, seven inches tall.) When she was younger, Westheimer worried her height might not be appealing. Later, she realized it was an asset. “On the contrary, I was lucky to be so small, because when I was studying at the Sorbonne, there was very little space in the auditoriums and I could always find a good-looking guy to put me up on a windowsill,” she told the HBR.

7. She advises people not to take huge penises seriously.

Westheimer doesn’t frown upon pornography; in 2018, she told the Times of Israel that viewers can “learn something from it.” But she does note the importance of separating fantasy from reality. “People have to use their own judgment in knowing that in any of the sexually explicit movies, the genitalia that is shown—how should I say this? No regular person is endowed like that.”

8. She lectures on cruise ships.

Westheimer uses every available medium—radio, television, the internet, and even graphic novels—to share her thoughts and advice about human sexuality. Sometimes, that means going out to sea. The therapist books cruise ship appearances where she offers presentations to guests on how best to manage their sex lives. Westheimer often insists the crew participate and will regularly request that the captain read some of the questions.

“The last time, the captain was British, very tall, and had to say ‘orgasm’ and ‘erection,’” she told The New York Times in 2018. “Never did they think they would hear the captain talk about the things we were talking about.” Of course, that’s long been Westheimer’s objective—to make the taboo seem tame.

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