The internet recently exploded into a heated debate about what the end piece of a loaf of bread is called. By the end of it the internet had compiled 24 different “names” for the end of the loaf including (but not limited to) knobby, crust, butt, and doorstep. By the end, most people accepted that the word “heel” to be the proper name for the end slice.
The debate makes you stop and think about how many other things in the world have a real name that no one actually uses. Well, we’ve done the homework and collected a list of things you might not realize have an actual term to describe them. Read on and impress all your friends at the next trivia night.
“Petrichor” Is The Smell Of Rain
The term “petrichor” is a combination of the Greek word “Petra” which means stone, and “ichor” which means blood of the gods. Australian researchers coined the term way back in 1964 and then it finally became a word in 2011 after a Doctor Who episode used it.
There’s a distinct smell to a rainy day that’s sometimes hard to explain. In New York, it might just smell like sewers and rats, but in a small town, it might smell like a fresh new day is about to start.
Your “Googlegänger” Could Ruin You
We all know that the term doppelgänger means having a double. So, when you see someone on the street that looks just like you but isn’t related, they’re your doppelgänger. Similarly, our Googlegänger is the term used for someone who has the same name as you and comes up when you search it in Google.
For most people, it might not be that worrisome, but it must suck for the 10-year-old kid living in Alabama with the name Bill Gates.
You Use An “Aglet” To Tie Your Shoes
The little plastic thing at the end of your shoelaces is called and “aglet.” The word comes from the French and Latin words for “needle” which makes sense when you’re thinking of how difficult it would be to tie shoes without a pointy end.
This might be news to adults but kids who are fans of the children’s show Phineas and Ferb would already know this fact since they spend a full episode on it.
A “Zugzwang” Means You’re Going To Lose At Chess
This fun looking term is what you call it when any possible move in a game would be to your disadvantage. The term was coined for the game of chess but it’s also pretty common in Connect 4.
If you guessed from the spelling and sound of the word, it comes from the German language and means “compulsion to move.” Now when you’re totally screwed at the end of a game, you can yell this term without getting in any trouble.
The Weight You Gain After A Breakup Is Called “Kummerspeck”
“Kummerspeck” is yet another very German word that specifically refers to the extra pounds you pack on thanks to emotional over-eating. We all do it, and finally the Germans decided to name it something. The literal translation? “Grief bacon.” We have to hand it to the Germans, they definitely don’t beat around the bush.
On the bright side, knowing that your extra pounds are called “grief bacon” might stop you from gaining them.
“Barm” Is The Foam On A Beer
The foam that collects on top of a poured beer is most commonly referred to as the “head” of a beer, but that’s wildly incorrect. The word “barm” has been around for quite a while and is actually used to describe more than just the foam on beer.
Barm can refer to anything baked that raises thanks to leavening agents like yeast. If you go to England you can have barm cake and barm rolls.
The Symbols For Profanity Is A “Grawlix”
If you were a big fan of comic books then you’ll be familiar with a grawlix. They are the string of random symbols like “*@$%*” that is scrawled in the place of a swear word.
Now that you know the word you can feel confident using a grawlix in everyday life. So when you’re boss tells you that you have to stay late that or you get dumped through a text message, you can just say “Oh, *%#$*.”
The Lights You See When You Close Your Eyes Are “Phosphenes”
Most of the time when you close your eyes, all you see is black. However, when we close our eyes really tightly or apply pressure, then you might see these bright lights. For some people they are simple orbs, and for others they can be moving psychedelic colors.
The word “phosphenes” that is used to describe the lights that we see come from the Greek word that means “to show light.”
A “Nurdle” Is The Dollop Of Toothpaste
The word “nurdle” was originally used to describe a piece of plastic or material that comes off in pre-production of an item. It’s the size of a pea and usually pellet-shaped. The same shape and size is recommended by dentists for the amount of toothpaste to use when brushing your teeth.
This is a good word to remember. That huge glob of toothpaste they show in commercials is way too much and definitely not nurdle-sized.
A “Zarf” Is Your Coffee Cup Sleeve
The inventor of the cardboard coffee cup sleeve actually tried to trademark it as a Java Jacket but it just never caught on. Most people today just call it a “sleeve” but there’s a long history to its real name “zarf.”
A zarf is a metal, often very ornamental, jacket used to hold a coffee cup that didn’t have a handle. Interestingly enough, zarfs have been around since the 13th century.
You Probably Can’t Read Your Doctor’s “Griffonage”
Someone’s bad “griffonage” can be one of the most frustrating parts of your day. The term refers to handwriting that is so bad that it’s pretty much illegible. Thankfully, now that we all type of computers and phones, we don’t have to encounter “griffonage” all that often.
The word derives from 16th-century France where handwriting must have been especially bad. It first appeared in modern English in the 19th century.
If You’re Sick You’re Feeling “Crapulence”
No, that’s not a word that a 13-year-old made up on the schoolyard. The word “crapulence” actually dates back to the Latin language. The word was like a synonym for intoxication. Nowadays it is used to describe that feeling you get when you’re sick to your stomach after over-eating or over-drinking.
Next time all your friends are complaining about a hangover you can announce that you are better than them and are feeling “crapulence.”
A “Ferrule” Is A Pencil’s Aglet
The little metal part on the end of a pencil that the eraser goes into is known as a “ferrule.” The word isn’t used just for pencils though. You can call any small metal or plastic ring that connects to objects a “ferrule.”
You might be thinking “isn’t an aglet a ferrule then?” No, an aglet sits on the end of a shoelace and there isn’t anything else connected to it.
The “Glabella” Is The Space Between Your Eyebrows
Crafting the finest eyebrows is one of the most important things nowadays and that means not venturing too far into the “glabella.” The word is used to describe the space between your eyebrows where the bridge of your nose begins.
The glabella is actually a useful tool for diagnosing Parkinson’s disease. The glabellar reflex is very primitive. If you tap someone with Parkinson’s disease multiple times on the glabella they will blink continuously, whereas a healthy person will be fine.
The “Hamburger Button” Will Bring You Back Home
The “hamburger button” is the name for those three little lines you see in the corners on phones and computers that bring you to a menu. The three-lined icon was originally designed way back in 1981 and by 2009 it was commonplace on mobile apps.
The button was originally intended to look like a list, but it got its name because the three lines look like a stacked hamburger. The name almost makes too much sense.
The “Interrobang” Isn’t Around Anymore
People who fawn over grammar might know that an “interrobang” is the name for when a question mark and exclamation point are combined. The symbol was especially popular in the 1960s and was even used enough to garner its own button on Remington typewriters.
You don’t see that actual interrobang symbol much anymore — this is what it looks like: ‽. Nowadays, people just write out both symbols. Can you believe it?!
If You’re Bad With Names You’re Familiar With A “Tartle”
Anyone who is terrible at remembering names probably does a “tartle” once a day. The word is of Scottish origin and means the act of hesitating when introducing someone because you forgot their name.
The word might sound out of place in a sentence but that silly factor can be useful in an awkward situation. If you forget someone’s name just say, “Pardon my tartle!” and you’ll be in the clear.
The Ringing Sound In Your Ears Is A “Tinnitus”
If you’ve never heard ringing in your ears then congratulations, you have no “tinnitus” to worry about! One in five people though can hear a low ringing in their ears. The ringing isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you hear it go to a doctor ASAP because it could be a sign of hearing loss or other hearing problems.
Scientists have studied the “tinnitus” sound and believe that it is an E flat.
Chinese Takeout Comes In An Oyster Pail
Those iconic takeout boxes that your Chinese or Asian takeout comes in actually has a name and an even more interesting backstory. The foldable containers were, you guessed it, originally used for oysters. In the early 1800s, most people didn’t know how to open and shuck an oyster.
The foldable boxes were invented by fishermen so they could sell, shuck, and package oysters that their customers could carry them away without fear of leaking.
Those Pins And Needles Is “Paresthesia”
That tickling, numbing feeling you get in your legs or arms when they fall asleep is called “paresthesia.” The term is actually used to describe any abnormal feeling that happens to your skin.
Getting pins and needles are the most common and rarely last more than a few minutes, but people can actually have chronic paresthesia. My heart goes out to the people who have to suffer every day with that strange feeling of ants crawling all over your skin.
If You Can’t Get A Song Out Of Your Head It’s An “Earworm”
An “earworm” isn’t a gross creepy crawler that has nested itself in our ears to eat our brains. It’s just the word to describe when you can’t get a song out of your head. Earworms are pretty common but one woman, Jean Harris, holds the record for the world’s longest earworm at 33 years.
Science also studied the most common earworms and they include the songs “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club and “Who Let The Dogs Out?” by Baha Men.
On The Flipside, Misheard Lyrics Are Called “Mondegreen”
There’s no feeling quite like the moment you realize you’ve been singing the completely wrong lyrics to a song. The term was actually coined by scientists and they have studied how and why people choose certain words to take the place of misheard lyrics.
Some famous “mondegreens” are like when you sang “We’re living in a Cherio world” to Madonna’s Material Girl. Luckily, now we can get the lyrics to any song with the click of a button.
Your Mom Probably Loves To “Scurryfunge”
A “scurryfunge” is a term to describe the hasty, last-minute cleaning up of the house when you are expecting people to come over. The word is from Old English and was often used in novels and plays.
Over the years, the word has gone out of style and left the official dictionaries. Considering the fact that people around the world still “scurryfunge” whenever their in-laws are coming over, we might as well bring the world back.
“Phloems” Are Those Annoying Strings On Bananas
Those nasty little thin white strings that are left half-hanging off of a banana when you peel it has a name and it’s “phloems.” Phloems are not unique to bananas and it is actually a term used to describe the tissue in plants that transport food and nutrients from the leaves to different parts of the plant.
That means we wouldn’t have delicious bananas without those annoying little strings, so be thankful for them.
The Useless Side Of A Hammer Is A “Peen”
The side of the hammer that you actually use to put a nail in the wall is counterbalanced by a “peen.” That’s the word to describe the shape of the metal on the other end. “Peens” can take different shapes and your peen will depend on the job you need to do.
One might have a have cross-peens hammer, which is the one with two strips of metal and is commonly used to remove nails from walls. Ball-peen hammers are also common with machinists and metalworkers.
Tons Of People Have A “Lemniscate” Tattoo
The infinity symbol that is commonly referred to as a “sideways eight” has an actual name called “lemniscate.” The word comes from the Latin term for “decorated with ribbons” which make sense because it looks like a folded ribbon.
Lemniscates didn’t originally begin as a symbol for infinity, but rather just a simple mathematical equation. Famous mathematicians like James Booth and Johann Bernoulli both used algebra to create the symbol.
We Should All Follow Out Own “Desire Paths”
You can probably figure out what a “desire path” is just by thinking about it. We all walk by that one place on our commute home that has a sidewalk that takes an inconvenient route. Instead, enough people have chosen to take the shortcut and create their own path.
The term “desire path” means a path created by natural means because it is “the shortest or most easily navigated” way.
Morning People Have No Idea What “Dysania” Is
“Dysania” is a word to describe the feeling when you find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. It is also sometimes referred to as “clinomania.” Many people out there who hate mornings might say they experience “dysania” but there is actually a condition surrounding it.
Scientists have proven that there are some people who find it painful and mentally difficult to wake up in the morning.
A “Tittle” Is A Little Mark
Once again, a lover of language and grammar might have already known that the little dot on top of a lowercase ‘i’ or ‘j’ is called a “tittle.” The word loosely translated all the way back to the Greek term “iota” which was the smallest letter in the alphabet.
The common use of the word is as old as the King James Bible and was originally meant to describe something very small or worthless but that receives attention.
Impulsive Slang Is Called “Tmesis”
A lot of slang words have their own meaning, but the act of breaking one normal word into two by adding a profanity into the middle is called “tmesis.” The term dated back to Ancient Greece and means “cutting” which is exactly what you’re doing with the word.
Over time, “tmesis” was used in poetry and scripts, but nowadays people use it for exclamations like “I an going abso-freaking-lutely crazy!”