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Words and Numbers Trivia

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Axinomancy is the observation of an axe or a hatchet to tell the future.

Sweaters originated as names for knitted jerseys or pullovers worn for sports. It is believed that college jocks of yesteryear coined the term "sweater" because it became soaked in sweat after strenuous physical activity.

In the Middle English, the word "minister" meant "lowly person." It was originally adopted as a term of humility for men of the church.

Before anybody called it "yo-yo" (meaning "come back" or "return" in the native language of the Philippines, Tagalog), it was popular in seventeenth- through nineteenth-century Europe under many names, including "quiz," "bandalore," "l'emigrette," "coblentz," and "incroyable." It was called "disk" by the ancient Greeks.

Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu (85 letters long) is the world's second-longest place name. This Maori name of a hill in New Zealand translates as "The Place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed, and swallowed mountains, known as a land-eater, played on the flute to his loved one."

In the Netherlands, a support group for people with autism has coined a new term for those who are not autistic – "neurologically typical."

Benjamin Franklin compiled a list of more than 200 synonyms for "drunk," including cherry-merry, nimptopsical, and soaked.

Tennis pro Evonne Goolagong's last name means "kangaroo's nose" in one of Australia's aboriginal languages.

In the old school primer Now We Read, the name of the cat featured with Dick, Jane, Sally, and their dog Spot, was Puff.

Bloomers, or ladies pantaloons got their name from suffragette Amelia Bloomer.

Tenosynovitis is an inflammation of the tendon's sheath in your wrist. Typists often suffer from this condition as it is caused by excessive small finger movements.

In the United States and France, a septillion is represented by the number 1 followed by 24 zeroes; in Great Britain and Germany, it is the number 1 followed by 42 zeroes.

Boot and shoemakers are often commonly called "cobblers." But the word cobbler is more properly applied to shoe repairmen. Those who actually make footwear are known as "cordwainers." This term has its antecedents in the word "cordovan," which was a reddish leather produced in Spain. Hence, one who worked in cordovan was a cordwainer. Shoemakers who made custom, made-to-order shoes were known as "bespoke" makers.

That sliding effect achieved by sounding a series of adjacent tones in rapid succession, like when you run your finger over the white keys of a piano or the strings of a harp, is called a “glissando.”

In the United States in 1999, $1 billion was spent on beauty items for fingernails.

British slang for a hoodlum or lout is “yob.” It's an inversion of the word “boy.”

That small skullcap worn by Roman Catholic clergymen is called a zucchetto.

In the United States, it is called stone-skipping. In England, it is known as ducks and drakes; in Denmark, it's called smutting.

Carte blanche, which means unconditional authority or power, was coined during the mid 1600s and literally means in French “blank document.”

In the United States, sales of used household merchandise are called “rummage sales;” in Britain, they're called “jumble sales.”

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