Things one may not know!
1. Q: Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?
A: Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange
clay called 'pygg'. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay,
the jars became known as 'pygg banks.' When an English potter
misunderstood the word, he made a bank that resembled a pig. And it
2. Q: Did you ever wonder why dimes, quarters and half dollars
notches, while pennies and nickels do not?
A: The US Mint began putting notches on the edges of coins containing
gold and silver to discourage holders from shaving off small
quantities of the precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars
are notched because they used to contain silver. Pennies and nickels
aren't notched because the metals they contain are not valuable enough
3. Q: Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's
clothes have buttons on the left?
A: When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn
primarily by the rich. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids,
dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right! Since most people are
right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes
on the left. And that's where women's buttons have remained since.
4. Q. Why do X's at the end of a letter signify kisses?
A: In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write,
documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an
oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the
kiss eventually became synonymous.
5. Q: Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called 'passing
A: In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a
buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If
a player did not wish to assume the responsibility, he would 'pass the
buck' to the next player.
6. Q: Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?
A: It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by
offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was
safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his
drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it
simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would then just
touch or clink the host's glass with his own.
7. Q: Why are people in the public eye said to be 'in the limelight'?
A: Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and stage
lighting by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant
light. In the theatre, performers on stage 'in the limelight' were
seen by the audience to be the center of attention.
8. Q: Why do ships and aircraft in trouble use 'mayday' as their
A: This comes from the French word m'aidez - meaning 'help me' – and
is pronounced 'mayday.'
9. Q: Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?
A: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they
attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on
cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.
10. Q: Why are zero scores in tennis called 'love'?
A: In France, where tennis first became
popular, a big, round zero on
the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called 'l'oeuf,' which is
French for 'egg.' When tennis was introduced in the US,
pronounced it 'love.'
11. Q: In golf, where did the term 'Caddie' come from?
A. When Mary, later Queen of Scots, went to France
as a young girl
(for education & survival), Louis, King of France, learned that she
loved the Scot game 'golf.' So he had the first golf course outside of
Scotland built for her enjoyment. To make sure
she was properly
chaperoned (and guarded) while she played, Louis hired cadets from a
military school to accompany her. Mary liked this a lot and when she
returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in the
long run), she took
the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is pronounced 'ca-
day' and the Scots changed it into 'caddie.'
Thanks to my good friend Steve Newell for providing these gems of wisdom!