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16 Expletives We Should Definitely Bring Back

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Some words are just perfect for shouting out in exasperation. These oldies will make you feel better the moment they pass your lips.

1. ZOONTERS!

This one got a little play in the 18th century as a minced oath—a swear that was modified to avoid being offensive. It’s a further mincing of zounds, which was itself a mincing of “his wounds,” as in Christ’s. Keep it handy in case you stub your toe in church.

2. OONS!

If zoonters is pushing it too close to the edge of blasphemy, just cut it down by a few more sounds. Oons was another minced oath formed off zounds.

3. DODGAST!

Much in the way that familiar forms like dagnabbit and doggone are ways to avoid saying God damn it! and God damned!, dodgast takes on the burden of God blast it! and makes it safe for children.

4. ADOD!

Yet another obsolete way to get the satisfaction of a swear without the taking of the Lord’s name in vain, this minced oath from the 17th century stands in for oh God. Its sibling egad! survived longer.

5. CRIVENS!

This one is a creative mashup of Christ! and heavens! It’s put to good use in this line from the 1935 book Shipbuilders: “Holy crivens, I nearly broke my flakin’ back.”

6. I SNORE!

Once you go a little bit out of your way to avoid some blasphemy, no reason not to keep going even further. The exclamation I snore! was an early American way to avoid even saying the word swear. In 1790, the Massachusetts Spy reported that “in one village you will hear the phrase ‘I snore,’—in another, ‘I swowgar.’”

7. BY SNUM!

If snore or swowgar isn’t far enough from offensive for you, there’s also snum. Snum came from vum, which itself came from vow

8. BYR’LADY!

Not to be confused with beer lady!, this one was formed from “by our lady.”

9. RABBIT!

You’ve probably heard of drat! And rats! They started as God rot!, but before that, it was rendered as rabbit—as in “Rabbit the fellow!” from Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews.

10. WHAT THE RATTLE!?

There’s only one citation for this one in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it’s a good one, from 1790: “But what the rattle makes you look so tarnation glum?”

11. BONES OF ME!

This 16th century exclamation could show up as bones of me! or bones of you! The bones are the part of the body with the most staying power after death, so the expression has a force akin to “over my dead body” without the “don’t you dare” part.

12. GOOD LACK!

In addition to good God! And good heavens! There was good lack! Related to alack! and a sense of lack meaning fault or moral failing. It was used to express dismay at a state of affairs.

13. LOVANENTY!

An exclamation of shock and surprise, it’s probably from the phrase Lord defend thee. It also showed up as lockanties, lockintee, and lokins in Scotland.

14. MEGSTIE ME!

Another expression of surprise, it might be related to mighty. Other forms were megsty, maiginty, and megginstie, or meggins for short.

15. STAP MY VITALS!

This one probably started with Lord Foppington, a character in the 1697 comedy Relapse, who had a problem with pronouncing o as a.

16. SUPERNACULUM!

An obsolete exhortation to drink, this was a jokey combination of Latin and German. There was a German phrase auf den Nagel trinken or “drink to the nail,” meaning “drain your glass to the last drop.” Naculum was a play on what Nagel would sound like in Latin. Add super- or “over” to it and you’ve got supernaculum, which you can cry out as you turn your glass over to show you’ve chugged it all.

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What's the Longest Word in the World? Here are 12 of Them, By Category
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Rebecca O'Connell

Antidisestablishmentarianism, everyone’s favorite agglutinative, entered the pop culture lexicon on August 17, 1955, when Gloria Lockerman, a 12-year-old girl from Baltimore, correctly spelled it on The $64,000 Question as millions of people watched from their living rooms. At 28 letters, the word—which is defined as a 19th-century British political movement that opposes proposals for the disestablishment of the Church of England—is still regarded as the longest non-medical, non-coined, nontechnical word in the English language, yet it keeps some robust company. Here are some examples of the longest words by category.

1. METHIONYLTHREONYLTHREONYGLUTAMINYLARGINYL … ISOLEUCINE 

Note the ellipses. All told, the full chemical name for the human protein titin is 189,819 letters, and takes about three-and-a-half hours to pronounce. The problem with including chemical names is that there’s essentially no limit to how long they can be. For example, naming a single strand of DNA, with its millions and millions of repeating base pairs, could eventually tab out at well over 1 billion letters.

2. LOPADOTEMACHOSELACHOGALEOKRANIOLEIPSAN …P TERYGON

The longest word ever to appear in literature comes from Aristophanes’ play, Assemblywomen, published in 391 BC. The Greek word tallies 171 letters, but translates to 183 in English. This mouthful refers to a fictional fricassee comprised of rotted dogfish head, wrasse, wood pigeon, and the roasted head of a dabchick, among other culinary morsels. 

3. PNEUMONOULTRAMICROSCOPICSILICOVOLCANOCONIOSIS

At 45 letters, this is the longest word you’ll find in a major dictionary. An inflated version of silicosis, this is the full scientific name for a disease that causes inflammation in the lungs owing to the inhalation of very fine silica dust. Despite its inclusion in the dictionary, it’s generally considered superfluous, having been coined simply to claim the title of the longest English word.

4. PARASTRATIOSPHECOMYIA STRATIOSPHECOMYIOIDES 

The longest accepted binomial construction, at 42 letters, is a species of soldier fly native to Thailand. With a lifespan of five to eight days, it’s unlikely one has ever survived long enough to hear it pronounced correctly.

5. PSEUDOPSEUDOHYPOPARATHYROIDISM

This 30-letter thyroid disorder is the longest non-coined word to appear in a major dictionary.

6. FLOCCINAUCINIHILIPILIFICATION

By virtue of having one more letter than antidisestablishmentarianism, this is the longest non-technical English word. A mash-up of five Latin roots, it refers to the act of describing something as having little or no value. While it made the cut in the Oxford English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster volumes refuse to recognize it, chalking up its existence to little more than linguistic ephemera.

7. SUBDERMATOGLYPHIC

At 17 characters, this is the longest accepted isogram, a word in which every letter is used only once, and refers to the underlying dermal matrix that determines the pattern formed by the whorls, arches, and ridges of our fingerprints. 

8. SQUIRRELLED

Though the more commonly accepted American English version carries only one L, both Oxford and Merriam-Webster dictionaries recognize this alternate spelling and condone its one syllable pronunciation (think “world”), making it the longest non-coined monosyllabic English word at 11 letters.

9. ABSTENTIOUS

One who doesn’t indulge in excesses, especially food and drink; at 11 letters this is the longest word to use all five vowels in order exactly once.

10. ROTAVATOR 

A type of soil tiller, the longest non-coined palindromic word included in an English dictionary tallies nine letters. Detartrated, 11 letters, appears in some chemical glossaries, but is generally considered too arcane to qualify.

11. and 12. CWTCH, EUOUAE

The longest words to appear in a major dictionary comprised entirely of either vowels or consonants. A Cwtch, or crwth, is from the Welsh word for a hiding place. Euouae, a medieval musical term, is technically a mnemonic, but has been accepted as a word in itself. 

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12 Things Called ‘French’ In English and Whether They're Actually French
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Happy Bastille Day! To celebrate this French holiday, let’s take a look at some of the things we call "French" in English that may not be French at all.

1. FRENCH TOAST

They don’t eat French toast in France. There, it’s called pain perdu ("lost bread," because it’s what you do with stale bread) or pain doré (golden bread). In the 17th century French toast was a term used for any kind of bread soaked and then griddled: In a 1660 citation, it refers to bread soaked in wine with sugar and orange and then cooked.

2. FRENCH VANILLA

Vanilla is a bean from a tropical plant not grown in France, so what’s so French about French vanilla? French vanilla was originally not a term for a type of vanilla, but a type of vanilla ice cream, one made using a French technique with an eggy, custard base. It’s since detached from ice cream and become a flavor with a certain rich profile.

3. FRENCH DRESSING

Originally the phrase French dressing referred to the type of dressing people might actually eat in France: oil, vinegar, herbs, maybe a little mustard. But somehow during the early 20th century it came to be the name for a pinkish-red, ketchup-added version that’s totally American.

4. FRENCH PRESS

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In France, the French press coffeemaker, a pot for steeping coffee grounds with a plunger for filtering them out, is called a cafetière à piston or just a bodum after the most common brand. It may have been invented in France, but the first patent for one was taken out by an Italian in 1929. The style of coffee became popular in France in the 1950s, and was later referred to by American journalists as "French-press style coffee."

5. FRENCH KISS

The term French kiss, for kissing with tongue, came into English during World War I when soldiers brought the phrase—and perhaps the kissing style—back from the war with them. French had long been used as a common adjective for various naughty, sexually explicit things like French letters (condoms), French postcards (naked pictures), and French pox (VD). In French, to kiss with the tongue is rouler un patin, “roll a skate” (having to do with gliding?), but in Québec they do say frencher.

6. FRENCH HORN

In French, a French horn is a cor d’harmonie or just cor, a name given to the looping, tubed hunting horns that were made in France in the 17th century. French became to the way to distinguish it from other horn types, like the German or Viennese horn, which had different types of tubes and valves.

7. FRENCH FRIES

The phrase French fries evolved in North America at the end of the 19th century out of the longer “French fried potatoes.” The dish is said to be more properly Belgian than French, but it was introduced to America by Thomas Jefferson after he brought a recipe back from France. In French they are simply pommes frites, fried potatoes.

8. FRENCH MANICURE

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The French manicure, a pinkish, nude nail with a bright, whitened tip, was apparently invented in Hollywood in the 1970s. It began to be called a French manicure after the look made it to fashion runways. The style isn’t as popular in France, but women there do tend toward a groomed look with a natural color. In France, the term has been borrowed in from English: It's called la French manucure.

9. FRENCH BRAID

The term French braid (or French plait in British English) has been around since the 1870s, but the braid style itself, where hair is gathered gradually from the sides of the head over the course of braiding, has been around for thousands of years, according to archeological artifacts. It may have become associated with France simply for being seen as high fashion and French being equated with stylishness. In French, they also call this specific style of braid a French braid, or tresse française.

10. FRENCH TWIST

The vertically rolled and tucked French twist hairdo also came to be in the 19th century, and was also associated with French high fashion. In French it is called a chignon banane for its long, vertical shape.

11. FRENCH MAID

Housemaids in 19th-century France did wear black and white uniforms—though they were not quite as skimpy as the French maid costumes you see today. The French maid became a trope comic character in theater and opera, and the costume, along with other titillating characteristics, came to define what we now think of as the classic French maid.

12. FRENCH BREAD

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These days French bread has come to stand for any white bread with a vaguely baguette-like shape, whether or not it has a traditional, crusty exterior. It has been used as a term in English as far back as the 15th century to distinguish it from other, coarser types of bread.

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