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15 of the Coolest Clique Names in Pop Culture

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While not every school has cliques, nearly all of them in pop culture seem to. Some go as far as to literally sort individuals into different groups, but most aren’t so well-defined.

Rather than physical walls, pop culture cliques are divided by figurative ones, such as class, race, or coolness (or lack thereof), or else are bound by a single purpose or a socially forbidden love. But they all have one thing in common: nifty names. Here are 15 of the coolest clique names in pop culture.

1. & 2. THE SHARKS AND THE JETS

The Sharks and the Jets of West Side Story are more street gangs than cliques—that is, if street gangs sang and danced—and are split by ethnicity: the Sharks are Puerto Rican, a booming population in the 1950s, when the musical and film are set, and the Jets are white. They were also inspired by real-life street gangs that went by such names as the Vampires, the Jokers, and the Dragons.

3. & 4. SOCS AND GREASERS

S.E. Hinton introduced us to the Socs and Greasers in her 1967 novel, The Outsiders, and we got to know them again in the 1983 movie as well as short-lived 1990 TV series (in which a very young Jay Ferguson, best known as Stan on Mad Men, played Ponyboy).

Soc (pronounced Sosh with a long "o") is short for social, perhaps with the idea that rich kids engage in a lot of social activities or else are part of high society. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), greaser originated in early 1960s California in reference to long-haired youths who drag-race, wear grease in their hair, and smoke marijuana. Hinton uses greaser to also mean a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks.

5. & 6. THE T-BIRDS AND PINK LADIES

Grease is the word, and the T-Birds and Pink Ladies are the cliques with the most. While greasers are undesirable in The Outsiders, the greasy T-Birds are the ultimate cool. T-Bird is short for "Thunderbird," probably referring to the Ford Thunderbird, a popular car model in the 1950s.

The pink-jacketed Pink Ladies are the T-Birds' female counterparts and sometime girlfriends. The phrase pink lady has a few different meanings: a cocktail made with gin, egg white, and grenadine; a female hospital volunteer; and a barbiturate.

7. THE BRAT PACK

While not technically a high school clique, the members of this Hollywood posse played high schoolers well beyond their teenage years. Famously coined in a 1985 New York Magazine articleBrat Pack refers to a group of actors—Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, and Judd Nelson among them—who appeared, often together, in a string of coming-of-age films including The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, and The Outsiders.

The term is a play on Rat Pack, an old Hollywood clique which claimed such members as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. In general a rat pack is a gang of disorderly young 'uns.

8. THE HEATHERS

This circle of powerful, popular mean girls are all named Heather, save for the rebellious Veronica. The name Heather was popular, too—at least in the 1970s. Its popularity dropped after the mid-1980s, which is right around the time the film Heathers came out.

As for Veronica, last name Sawyer: she and her childhood friend, the non-popular Betty Finn, were named for Betty and Veronica in the Archie comics, as well as for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

9. THE PLASTICS

Another set of popular Mean Girls, the Plastics are “teen royalty” (alpha Plastic Regina literally means “queen” in Latin), and like their name, they're cold, shiny, and hard. Plastic is also slang for a credit card, a symbol of materialism and excess.

10. MATHLETES

The Mathletes—a blend of math and athlete—are the nerds of the Mean Girls universe, competing for fun in mathematics competitions. (Freaks and Geeks has Mathletes, too.) The word mathlete is older than you might think, originating in the early 1930s.

11. THE PUFFS

At the already exclusive Chilton Prep School, the Puffs are an ultra-exclusive secret sorority that attempts to recruit bookish Rory Gilmore, although she wants nothing to do with them.

The name Puff may come from the idea of a puff pastry, which is light, airy, and sweet, or else puff meaning "hot air," vanity, and pride.

12. THE DEAD POETS SOCIETY

A better fit for Rory would have been the Dead Poets Society, an unofficial club that met in caves to read poetry and seize the day. Screenwriter Tom Schulman based the film on his experiences at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, and teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) on his own teacher, Samuel Pickering. After Robin Williams’s death, Jimmy Fallon paid tribute to the actor/comedian with a nod to the “O Captain! My Captain!” scene from the film.

13. THE PERSIAN MAFIA

“And that's the Persian Mafia,” Cher tells newbie Tai in Clueless. “You can't hang with them unless you own a BMW.” The Persian Mafia are rich kids of Iranian descent, much like those depicted in the reality series The Shahs of Sunset.

14. THE SCOOBIES

The Scoobies, short for Scooby Gang, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer are named for the Scooby-Doo cartoon, in which Scooby and “those meddling kids” solve mysteries mostly involving grouchy men in various monster costumes. Buffy’s Scoobies solve mysteries involving monsters, too. But in their case, the monsters are real.

The word scooby is Scots rhyming slang for “a clue,” as in, “No one’s got a scooby (doo).”

15. THE GREENDALE SEVEN

By season three of Community, the Study Group has had enough. They're forced to attend summer school, Shirley’s sandwich business has gone under due to a takeover from Subway, and on top of all that, Starburns is dead. At his funeral, they instigate a riot—hence their new nickname, the Greendale Seven.

Greendale Seven is a nod to the Chicago Seven, political radicals accused of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention, as well as the Seattle Seven, the leaders of the Seattle Liberation Front, who protested the convictions of the Chicago Seven.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

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Amazon

That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

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2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

Buy on ThinkGeek.

4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

Buy on Amazon.

5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

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6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

Buy at Cost Plus World Market.

8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

Buy on Amazon.

11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

Buy on Amazon.

12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy comping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

Buy on Amazon.

14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

Buy on Amazon.

15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

Buy on Amazon.

16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

Buy on Amazon.

17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

Buy on Live Infused.

18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

Buy on Amazon.

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