Sunday, 17 January 2016

Uncommon Words for Common Things

'Aglets' are the small pieces of plastic tubing found at the end of a shoelace which stops the thread unravelling. The word derives from Old French ‘aguillette’ meaning ‘needle’ - the idea of piercing a shoelace through a shoe’s eyelets just like a needle passes through material. Before the invention of plastic, aglets were made from metals such as copper, brass and silver.

‘Borborygmus’ is the name given to a rumbling stomach.

A ‘burgee’ is the little triangular flag that flies from a boat or dinghy.

The small pink corners of the eye are called ‘caruncula’.

A ‘dewclaw’ is the fifth claw on the inner part of a dog’s leg above their toes, so called because it was believed to brush the dew off of grass when it walked through it.

Anyone who enjoys baking and cake decorating may be familiar with ‘dragees’ which are the small silver balls found on birthday cakes.

The dusty remnants at the bottom of cereal boxes are called ‘fines’.

‘Glassine’ is the specific type of paper that lines boxes of chocolates and truffles.

An ‘interrobang’ is the name given to the non-official punctuation mark which uses both a question mark and exclamation mark, generally used to express surprise. For real?!

You will see ‘muselets’ around the corks of champagne bottles – the formal name for the wire mesh.

The ‘philtrum’ is the vertical groove between the nose and top lip.

The pink and blue aniseed-flavoured Liquorice Allsorts are called ‘spogs’ (ironically containing no liquorice).

A ‘lunula’ is the half-moon part at the base of a fingernail, seen most commonly on the bases of thumbnails.

Forks have ‘tines’ – simply, the prongs.

A ‘tittle’ is another name for the dot above lower-case letters I and J.

And an ‘ullage’ is the space of a wine bottle not occupied by wine i.e. the space between the cork/lid and the top of the liquid itself.

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