100 Random Facts About The English Language (2022)

This month, words and trivia Twitter account @HaggardHawks turns one year old. Since December 2013, we've been tweeting obscure words, surprising etymologies and bizarre linguistic facts every day, covering everything from abature (that's the trail of trampled grass an animal leaves behind it) and abligurition (spending to much money on food and drink -- worth remembering that one in the run up to Christmas) to zenzizenzizenzic (a 16th century word for a number raised to its eighth power) and zwischenzug (a purely tactical move made to buy time). So, after almost 3,000 tweets, here to mark our first anniversary are 100 random facts about the English language, English words, and English etymology taken from our first year online.

1. Bumblebees were nicknamed foggy-toddlers in 18th century England.

2. Pupaphobia is the fear of dolls and puppets.

3. Cowards have been called chickens since the 14th century.

4. A monepic sentence is one that contains a single word.

5. The distance between your thumb and the opposite side of your hand when it's extended is called the shaftment.

6. In 16th century English, twirk (spelled with an E, not an I) meant "to twist the hairs of a moustache."

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7. The word creosote literally means "flesh-preserver."

8. The feeling of calmness or contentedness that follows a pleasant dream is called euneirophrenia.

9. The word comet comes from a Greek word meaning "long-haired star."

10. To dismantle originally meant "to remove a cloak."

11. In its earliest known written record, the English alphabet had 29 letters.

12. Cluck-and-grunt was 1930s slang for ham and eggs.

13. An anepronym is a trade name that has come to be used generally in the language, like Kleenex, Jacuzzi or hoover.

14. In Elizabethan English, a clap of thunder was nicknamed a rounce-robble-hobble.

15. The word trampoline derives from an Italian word for a pair of stilts.

16. If you wrote out every number in the standard English counting system (one, two, three, four) in alphabetical order, no matter how high you counted the first number would always be eight.

17. The second would always be eight billion.

18. The "wherefore" of Shakespeare's "wherefore are thou, Romeo?" means "why" not "where."

19. In 18th century slang, "to play booty" meant "to play a game with the intention of losing."

20. Bystanders were originally called stander-bys.

21. The opposite of serendipity is zemblanity.

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22. You can use the girl's name Rebecca as a verb meaning "to destroy a gate."

23. If something is xyresic then it's razor sharp.

24. On average, for every letter Q used in written English there will be 56 E's.

25. The old Irish-English expression "to speak drugget" meant "to speak well, but occasionally slip back into your local accent."

26. A belter-werrits is a teasing or annoying child.

27. Dogfish are so-called because they were once thought to hunt in packs.

28. Mediocre literally means "halfway up a mountain."

29. To unhappen something means to make it look like it never took place.

30. A compulsive desire to look at something that horrifies you -- like a horror film or an injury -- is called cacospectomania.

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31. The paddy-whack mentioned in the nursery rhyme "This Old Man" is a Victorian word for a severe beating.

32. To jakes is to walk mud into a house.

33. Counting on your fingers is properly called dactylonymy.

34. Monkey-poop is an old naval slang word for a smaller-than-normal poop deck.

35. The "pep" of pep talk is an abbreviation of "pepper."

36. An autohagiography is an autobiography that makes the subject appear better than they actually are.

37. Pentagons were once called quinquangles.

38. Hexagons were once called sexangles.

39. The earliest written record of a rollercoaster in English comes from an 1883 article in The Chicago Tribune. It was described as "a curious structure."

40. In 18th century English, a wobble-shop was a place where beer was sold without a license.

41. A person's headmark comprises all of the facial features and characteristics that make them recognisable as themselves.

42. To rammack something is to turn it upside down while searching for something else.

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43. Toucans used to be called egg-suckers.

44. Use of the word selfie increased by 17000% between 2012-13.

45. A group of dragonflies is called a dazzle.

46. The "skate" of cheapskate is an old American dialect word for a worn-out horse.

47. Velociraptor literally means "swift thief."

48. To metagrobolize someone is to utterly confuse them.

49. The words a, and, be, have, he, I, in, of, that, the and to make up 25% of all written English.

50. The proper name for taking your shoes off is discalceation.

51. The name rum is a shortened form of rumbullion.

52. Turning down or pretending not to be interested in something that you really want is called accismus.

53. In 18th century slang, a heathen philosopher was someone whose underwear could be seen through his trouser pockets.

54. An aquabib is someone who chooses to drink water rather than alcohol.

55. The creases in the skin on the inside of your wrists are called the rasceta.

56. The word sheepish is a palindrome in Morse Code.

57. As a verb, tiger means "to paint something in stripes of contrasting colors."

58. The opposite of "postpone" is prepone, meaning "to bring something forward in time."

59. In Tudor English, ducks were nicknamed arsefeet because their legs are so far back on their bodies.

60. Since 2001, English has been the official language of all international air travel, regardless of the nationality of the pilots.

61. To honeyfuggle someone is to trick or deceive them.

62. A callomaniac is someone who thinks they're more beautiful than they actually are.

63. An adoxography is a fine work of writing on a pointless or trivial subject.

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64. Samuel Johnson left the letter X out of his dictionary, claiming that X "begins no word in the English language."

65. A crockan is a piece of food that has shrivelled up and burned in cooking.

66. The plant nasturtium took its name from a Latin word meaning "twisted nose."

67. Champagne literally means "open country."

68. In Victorian slang, a flapdoodler was an annoyingly boastful or self-righteous person.

69. Nucleus derives from the Latin word for the kernel of a nut.

70. Conversation is an anagram of "voices rant on."

71. The proper name for speaking through clenched teeth is dentiloquy.

72. Saturday wit was Tudor slang for dirty jokes.

73. Because of the pattern of holes they make in the ground, gophers take their name from an old French word for honeycomb.

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74. A toot-moot is a conversation carried out entirely in whispers.

75. In 18th century slang, a waffle-frolic was a sumptuous meal or feast.

76. The sentence "this sentence contains thirty-six letters" contains 36 letters.

77. Dutch pink is a shade of yellow.

78. In 1930s slang, artillery was any food that caused gas.

79. The "wuther" of Wuthering Heights is an old English dialect word for a sudden and strong gust of wind.

80. If something is obliviable then it's able to be forgotten.

81. The old Scots word growk means "the determined look a child gives to something she or he really wants."

82. In Old English, bad weather was called unweather.

83. A slawterpooch is a lazy or ungainly person.

84. Hypengophobia is the hatred of having responsibilities.

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85. Chameleon literally means "dwarf lion."

86. In Victorian slang, a polly-in-the-cottage was a man who enjoyed doing housework.

87. The head of an asparagus is called the squib.

88. To frowst is to keep yourself warm in cold weather.

89. Anything described as hippocrepiform is shaped like a horseshoe.

90. Shakespeare invented the word lackluster.

91. A myriad is literally 10,000 of something.

92. In 1920s slang, a wagger-pagger-bagger was a wastepaper basket.

93. In Old English, arselings meant "heading in a backward direction."

94. Using too many words to explain an otherwise straightforward point is called macrology.

95. A wonder-horn is a collection of amazing things.

96. A doryphore is a pestering person who draws attention to other people's errors.

97. GIF stands for "graphics interchange format." According to its inventor, it should be pronounced "jiff" not "giff."

98. To snirtle is to try to suppress a laugh.

99. In Elizabethan slang, tailors were nicknamed snip-snappers.

100. A lampus is an awkward and clumsy fall, part way through which you try to grab onto something to try and stop from falling.

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FAQs

100 Random Facts About The English Language? ›

100 Random Facts About The English Language
  • Bumblebees were nicknamed foggy-toddlers in 18th century England.
  • Pupaphobia is the fear of dolls and puppets.
  • Cowards have been called chickens since the 14th century.
  • A monepic sentence is one that contains a single word.
Dec 9, 2014

What is the most interesting fact about English language? ›

English Language Facts
  • English originates from North West Germany and the Netherlands. ...
  • English is spoken by 952 million people around the world. ...
  • Most English grammar and spelling follow standardised rules. ...
  • The most used adjective in the English language is 'good' ...
  • English is the language of the sky.

What are some facts about the English language? ›

What are some mind blowing facts about the English language? ›

Here are seven language facts that will blow your mind:
  • Basque is a mystery language. ...
  • There's a language with only 12 letters. ...
  • Scrabble letter distribution is totally different between languages. ...
  • Most languages vs most words. ...
  • The US has no official language. ...
  • English and French are everywhere. ...
  • There's a word for 'twin speak'
Oct 26, 2021

Do you know amazing facts in English? ›

What is the oldest English word? ›

According to a 2009 study by researchers at Reading University, the oldest words in the English language include “I“, “we“, “who“, “two” and “three“, all of which date back tens of thousands of years.

What is the longest word in English? ›

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the longest word entered in the most trusted English dictionaries.

What are the top 10 interesting facts? ›

The 60 Most Interesting World Facts You'll Ever Hear
  • Glaciers and ice sheets hold about 69 percent of the world's freshwater. ...
  • The fastest gust of wind ever recorded on Earth was 253 miles per hour. ...
  • Recent droughts in Europe were the worst in 2,100 years. ...
  • The best place in the world to see rainbows is in Hawaii.

Who invented English language? ›

English is a West Germanic language that originated from Ingvaeonic languages brought to Britain in the mid 5th to 7th centuries AD by Anglo-Saxon migrants from what is now northwest Germany, southern Denmark and the Netherlands.

Who found English? ›

Having emerged from the dialects and vocabulary of Germanic peoples—Angles, Saxons, and Jutes—who settled in Britain in the 5th century CE, English today is a constantly changing language that has been influenced by a plethora of different cultures and languages, such as Latin, French, Dutch, and Afrikaans.

Did you know facts about language? ›

50+ Language Facts that Will Surprise You
  • There is a language spoken by 8 people. ...
  • Over 300 languages are spoken in the US. ...
  • There is no official language in the US. ...
  • Spoken languages become extinct. ...
  • Half the population of the world speaks 23 languages. ...
  • Half the world is bilingual. ...
  • One country has more than 800 languages.
Mar 24, 2020

Did you know facts about speaking? ›

Top 10 facts about talking
  • Men and women speak about 16,000 words every day.
  • Men interrupt women three times as often as women interrupt men.
  • The fear of public speaking is glossophobia.
  • The average Brit spends five months of their life talking about the weather.
Mar 7, 2017

What is the shortest oldest and most commonly used words in English? ›

Medieval manuscripts reveal that some of the oldest words in English are 'I,' 'we,' 'two,' and 'three. ' This makes 'I' one of the shortest and oldest words in the English language. It is also the most commonly used word in English conversations.

What are 10 crazy facts? ›

20 Crazy Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
  • Humans are the Only Animals That Enjoy Spicy Foods. ...
  • Humans Are Also the Only Animals Whose Brains Shrink. ...
  • Potato Chips Cause More Weight Gain Than Any Other Food. ...
  • That Fish is Probably Labeled Wrong. ...
  • Bananas Can't Reproduce. ...
  • It's Impossible to Hum While You Hold Your Nose.
Jan 15, 2018

What are 3 unusual facts? ›

Bet you didn't know.....
  • It is impossible for most people to lick their own elbow. ...
  • A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
  • A shrimp's heart is in its head.
  • It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky.

Did U Know scary facts? ›

Scary Facts to Make Your Skin Crawl
  • Humans shed skin too. Like, a lot of skin. ...
  • We could solve American homelessness easier than you think. On average, there are over 17,000,000 vacant homes in America at any given time. ...
  • Your cellphone is more disgusting than a public toilet.
Mar 21, 2022

What's the shortest word ever? ›

The shortest word is a. Some might wonder about the word I since it consists of one letter, too. In sound, a is shorter because it is a monophthong (consists of one vowel), while I is a diphthong. Both do consist of one letter in the English writing system, and in most fonts I is the narrowest letter.

What is the oldest swear word? ›

Fart, as it turns out, is one of the oldest rude words we have in the language: Its first record pops up in roughly 1250, meaning that if you were to travel 800 years back in time just to let one rip, everyone would at least be able to agree upon what that should be called.

What is the most rare word? ›

Here are the fifteen most unusual words you can find in the English language.
  • Nudiustertian. ...
  • Quire. ...
  • Yarborough. ...
  • Tittynope. ...
  • Winklepicker. ...
  • Ulotrichous. ...
  • Kakorrhaphiophobia. ...
  • Xertz. Who would have imagined it?
Oct 13, 2015

Which word takes 3 hours to say? ›

Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyl… isoleucine is the chemical name for the protein of “titin” also known as “connectin.” The largest known protein that consists of 26, 926 amino acids is made up of 189, 819 letters and can take about three hours to pronounce.

Is there a word with all 26 letters? ›

An English pangram is a sentence that contains all 26 letters of the English alphabet. The most well known English pangram is probably “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. My favorite pangram is “Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes.”

What is the 52 letter word? ›

Aequeosalinocalcalinoceraceoaluminosocupreovitriolic: noun, a word coined by Dr. Edward Strother to describe the spa waters in Bath, England. At 52 letters, this is the longest English word ever created that appears outside literature.

What is the craziest random fact? ›

Snails have been known to sleep up to three years if the weather isn't moist enough to meet their needs. Honeybees flap their wings 230 times every second. At birth, a panda cub is smaller than a mouse and weighs only four ounces. Horses and cows can sleep standing up, but they can only dream when lying down.

Did u know facts about love? ›

35 Facts About Love That Will Make Your Heart Smile
  • Falling in love is like being on drugs. ...
  • Hugging your partner is an instant stress reliever. ...
  • A happy heart is a healthy heart. ...
  • Animals commit to monogamous relationships, too. ...
  • Couples' heartbeats synchronize. ...
  • Being in love is the number one reason why people wed.

How old is English language? ›

The earliest forms of English, collectively known as Old English, evolved from a group of West Germanic (Ingvaeonic) dialects brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the 5th century and further mutated by Norse-speaking Viking settlers starting in the 8th and 9th centuries.

When was English first spoken? ›

They brought with them the Anglo-Saxon language, which combined with some Celtic and Latin words to create Old English. Old English was first spoken in the 5th century, and it looks incomprehensible to today's English-speakers.

What language did the Jesus speak? ›

Most religious scholars and historians agree with Pope Francis that the historical Jesus principally spoke a Galilean dialect of Aramaic. Through trade, invasions and conquest, the Aramaic language had spread far afield by the 7th century B.C., and would become the lingua franca in much of the Middle East.

How was English started? ›

The evolution of spoken English began from the fifth century, with waves of attack and eventual occupation by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. They spoke the same West Germanic tongue but with different dialects. Their intermingling created a new Germanic language; now referred to as Anglo-Saxon, or Old English.

What is English made up of? ›

So, English is made of Old English, Danish, Norse, and French, and has been changed by Latin, Greek, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Dutch and Spanish, along with some words from other languages. English grammar has also changed, becoming simpler and less Germanic.

Who is the father of English? ›

Who is known as the father of the English language? Geoffrey Chaucer. He was born in London sometime between 1340 and 1344. He was an English author, poet, philosopher, bureaucrat (courtier), and diplomat.

What are the top 10 interesting facts? ›

The 60 Most Interesting World Facts You'll Ever Hear
  • Glaciers and ice sheets hold about 69 percent of the world's freshwater. ...
  • The fastest gust of wind ever recorded on Earth was 253 miles per hour. ...
  • Recent droughts in Europe were the worst in 2,100 years. ...
  • The best place in the world to see rainbows is in Hawaii.

Why do we call English as an interesting language? ›

English can help you learn other languages

One of the biggest reasons why English is such an awesome language is because it has a very interesting history attached to it. It is a Germanic language, meaning that it has a lot of common ground with languages like German and Dutch.

Did you know facts about language? ›

50+ Language Facts that Will Surprise You
  • There is a language spoken by 8 people. ...
  • Over 300 languages are spoken in the US. ...
  • There is no official language in the US. ...
  • Spoken languages become extinct. ...
  • Half the population of the world speaks 23 languages. ...
  • Half the world is bilingual. ...
  • One country has more than 800 languages.
Mar 24, 2020

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