You’ve probably heard of the universal study aid called CliffsNotes. I’ve discovered the ultimate CliffsNotes in regard to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
In a book, “The Know-It-All” by A. J. Jacobs, he describes it as “one man’s humble quest to become the smartest person in the world.”
Jacobs read the entire 2002 Encyclopedia Britannica from “a-ak” to “Zywiec.” EB contains 65,000 entries with 44 million words. It does not include all entries, of course, but he writes amusingly and informatively about many topics.
That little groove between your nose and upper lip is called a philtron – a great word when playing Scrabble.
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, and the hinny is from a female donkey and a male horse. Evidently, there are gaps in our educational system. I did not know this, and I hope to spring that on friends when there’s a gap in conversation.
I always liked the song “Blue Moon” but did not know a blue moon is caused by dust in the air after a forest fire.
In the British Isles, the Halloween jack-o-lantern is made from a turnip – not a pumpkin.
I can’t verify this entry, but if you wished to visit Queen Victoria, don’t knock. She insisted you gently scratch on her door.
She wore a bustle that played “God save the Queen.” Today’s whoopee cushion.
Did you know the graham cracker was invented by Sylvester Graham, an eccentric health guru?
I did know this: Raccoons wash their food before eating. How hygienic.
An English semicolon used to be an interrogation mark in Greek.
Early typewriters were the size of pianos and only had capital letters. Then came a double-keyboard machine – two keys for each letter, small and large. This was followed by the invention of the shift key.
Jacobs’ book is by my bedside, and I read it during bouts of hyposomnia. That’s when you don’t sleep well. Insomnia is when you can’t sleep at all. I didn’t know that, either. Maybe I’ll sleep better knowing this.
My personal ambition now is to read the entire dictionary from “aardvark” (a burrowing animal) to “zyzzyva” (various tropical American weevils). I have no idea how many words are in there, but it’s a lot!
Maybe I should wait for Reader’s Digest to publish a condensed version.
So many words, so little time.