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Word Roots Trivia

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"Mrs." is the abbreviation of Mistress, which originally was a title and form of address for a married woman. It was always capitalized.

White elephants were rare even in Siam (the modern Thailand). If you found one the emperor automatically owned it and you couldn't harm it. When the emperor wanted to punish someone, he gave him or her a white elephant as a "gift." They couldn't ride it or work it, but they still had to take care of it and clean up after it. And you know what elephants do besides eat. So the gift was useless. Hence the expression.

"To whinge" is Australian slang for "to complain constantly."

"Turnip" used to be a U.S. slang expression for a pocket watch.

"Romanji" is a system of writing Japanese using the Latin alphabet.

"Toboggan" is derived from the Algonquin language and loosely meant "instrument with which to drag a cord."

"Yakka" means "hard work" in Australian slang.

Graffito is the little-used singular of the much used plural word graffiti.

Hoi polloi is a Greek phrase meaning "the many". Hoi polloi are the masses.

The American Heritage Dictionary was once banned from the Eldon, Missouri library because it contained 39 "objectionable" words.

A "clue" originally meant a ball of thread. This is why one is said to "unravel" the clues of a mystery.

A "criticaster" is an incompetent, inferior critic.

Ekistics is the science of human settlements, including city or community planning and design.

A greenish facial tint has long been associated with illness, as suggested by the phrase "green around the gills." As a person who is very envious is considered by many folks to be unwell, these people have been described as "green (or sick) with envy."

The word constipation (con sta PAY shun) comes from a Latin word that means "to crowd together."

The study of nose picking is called "rhinotillexomania."

The Ouija board is named for the French and German words for yes - oui and ja.

The explative, "Holy Toledo," refers to Toledo, Spain, which became an outstanding Christian cultural center in 1085.

The term "honeymoon" is derived from the Babylonians who declared mead, a honey-flavored wine, the official wedding drink, stipulating that the bride's parents be required to keep the groom supplied with the drink for the month following the wedding.

Scatologists are experts who study poop (a.k.a. crap, dung, dookie, dumps, feces, excrement, etc...).

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