People

Fun facts about people as a whole, as is the case with an ethnic group or nation.

picture of sunset

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight (is it true?)

You may have heard the saying: ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight’ but does a red sunset really mean you are going to have good weather? Yes! The colour red indicates that dust particles are suspended in the atmosphere under the effect of high pressure. This mass of air coming from the west means that …

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blonde hair

Only 2% of the world’s population have blonde hair

Blonde hair is extremely rare globally. 84% of the world’s population have black or dark-brown hair, including most of Africa and Asia. Blonde hair is most common in northern European regions. https://www.holleewoodhair.com/hair-color-statistics/ Why do people have blonde hair? People evolved to have blonde hair because, as they migrated north, the lighter the skin and hair, …

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croque-mort definition

Why the French for undertaker is ‘croque-mort’ (bite the dead)?

An undertaker in France is called a ‘croque-mort’. ‘Croque’ meaning to nibble or bite and ‘mort’ meaning dead. It is thought that the word comes from the middle ages when undertakers used to bite the toe of the deceased to check that they were definitely dead. In France the word ‘croque-mort’ is given to employees …

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mindless tv

In Romani, the word for television translates as ‘fool’s looking box’

In the ‘gypsy’ language of Romani they call a television a ‘dinnilos-dicking-muktar’ which literally translates as ‘fools-looking-box.’ The words ‘chav’, ‘lollipop’, and ‘pal’ also come from Romani. Pal – a friend, from the Romani word phral, meaning brother. ‘Loli phabai’ means red apple which mutated to ‘lollipop’. Bonus fact: Some people call them ‘gypsies’ but …

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sharing bread

What do the words company and companion have to do with bread?

The words company and companion come from the latin ‘com’ meaning with and ‘pan’ meaning bread. So a companion is someone you eat or share bread with. c. 1300, “one who accompanies or associates with another,” from Old French compagnon “fellow, mate, friend, partner” (12c.), from Late Latin companionem (nominative companio), literally “bread fellow, messmate,” from Latin com “with, together” (see com-) + panis “bread,” …

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coronavirus

Why is it called quarantine?

The word quarantine comes from quarantena, the Venetian for ‘forty’. This is because during the times of the Black Death (15th century) ships returning to Venice were ordered to remain on an island for 40 days( which is where we get the word ‘isolation’ coming from the latin ‘insula’ meaning island). Why 40 days? The …

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ok stamp

Where does the word ‘ok’ come from?

Why is everything ‘ok’? What does ‘ok’ mean? In the 1830s people found it amusing to spell expressions incorrectly. A common one was ‘all correct’ which became ‘orl korrekt’ and abbreviated to OK. The word was popularised when Martin Van Buren, known as Old Kinderhook, was campaigning for re-election and his fans were known as …

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