21 weird and wonderful word facts

Word factsSince writing my previous blog post containing 20 titbits of word trivia I’ve been on the hunt for more weird and wonderful word facts to share with you.

All of these facts are about words in the English language, so I’ve deliberately not repeated that each time.

Here goes…

1. Alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha + beta.

2. Computer has been used to refer to a person since 1613, to a machine since 1869 and to an electronic device since 1946.

3. Daisy is a contraction of “day’s eye”, because the flower opens in the morning and closes at night.

4. Deeded is the only word that is made using only two different letters, each used three times.

5. Dord is an example of a ‘ghost word’ – non-existent words that appeared in the dictionary because of printing errors.

6. Euouae (a type of cadence in medieval music) is the longest all-vowels word.

7. Feedback is the shortest word that contains the letters ABCDEF.

8. “He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas” demonstrates seven different spellings of the ‘ee’ sound.

9. Listen contains the same letters as silent.

10. Misspelled/misspelt is – ironically – one of the most commonly misspelled words.

11. Poecilonym is a synonym for the word synonym.

12. Pronunciation is one of the most often mispronounced words.

13. Rhythms is the longest word without any of the five regular vowels (although the ‘y’ functions as a vowel).

14. Startling is the only 9-letter word where you can remove one letter at a time and still create a word: Startling -> Starting -> Staring -> String -> Sting -> Sing -> Sin -> In -> I.

15. Strengths is the longest word containing just one vowel.

16. Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.

17. Subcontinental is the only word that uses each vowel only once and in reverse alphabetical order.

18. Therein contains 13 words spelt using consecutive letters: the, he, her, er, here, I, there, ere, rein, re, in, therein, herein.

19. Underground is the only word that begins and ends with the letters “und”.

20. ‘X’ was first used to represent a kiss in a 1763 letter from Naturalist Gilbert White (according to OED research).

21. Shift each letter of the word yes back ten places in the alphabet and it will spell oui – the French for ‘yes’.

Which of these interesting word facts do you like best? Any that were new to you? Or any other facts you’d care to add? Do share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via Freedigitalphotos.net

(Sources: various including Grammarly, Guinness World Records, Haggard Hawks, Oxford Dictionaries and Wordnik)

Posted in Language, Lists Tagged with: ,
8 comments on “21 weird and wonderful word facts
  1. Melanie Dumbrill says:

    I liked no 9 listen reshuffled as silent.

    How about the word on , add c before it con, add e to the end cone, add s and you have scone.

  2. Andy says:

    What about underfund as another word which begins and ends with und

  3. John Espirian says:

    Nice work, Geraldine. I’d never heard of ‘dord’ before.

    The longest one-syllable word is ‘screeched’.

    The longest word that can be made using only the top row of letters on a standard keyboard is ‘teetertotter’.

    • Thanks John! You’ve probably not heard of ‘dord’ before because it only stayed in the dictionary for 8 years before being noticed and removed (I included that bit of info in my original draft, but then decided to remove it to keep it short).

      I did in fact mention ‘screeched’ in my previous post – also ‘scratched’, ‘scrunched’ and ‘stretched’. But I’d not come across “teeter-totter’ before (just Googled it to discover it’s AmE, which is probably why) as I was under the impression that ‘typewriter’ and 3 other 10-letter words were the longest from the top row.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment 🙂

    • Andy. says:

      Almost is the longest word in the English language to have all the letters in alphabetical order.

      • Geraldine says:

        Nearly… it is in fact pipped to that honour by “billowy” and “beefily” (as explained in my previous “20 titbits of word trivia” post) 🙂

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