In the Congo, one must be very careful not to utter the name of anyone who is out fishing. Certain Congolese think you put such a whammy on the named native that he won't catch anything but flies.
There is only one animal that can completely turn its stomach inside out. The starfish.
According to scientists, gold exists on Mars, Mercury and Venus.
Each day 100 or more whales are killed by fishermen.
In the 10th century, the Grand Vizier of Persia took his entire library with him wherever he went. The 117,000-volume library was carried by camels trained to walk in alphabetical order.
More than 14 million Bic pens are sold daily in 150 countries. "Bic" is actually a shortened version of founder Marcel Bich's name.
P. J. Tierney, father of the modern diner, died of indigestion in 1917 after eating at a diner.
A "duffer" is Australian slang for a cattle thief.
"Brasco" is Australian slang for "lavatory."
The word "gazelle" comes from the Arabian term for "affectionate," and is believed to be inspired by the creature's large, gentle eyes.
"Kemo Sabe" means "soggy shrub" in Navajo.
"Singapore" means "City of Lions," but none have ever been seen there.
"Stewardesses" is the longest word that is typed with only the left hand.
100,000 cubic feet of water pours over the Niagra Falls every second.
A "clue" originally meant a ball of thread. Hence, one "unravels" the clues of a mystery.
A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time. It is 1/100 of a second.
A fireplace is called a "mantelpiece" because at one time people hung their coats (or "mantles") over the fireplace to dry them.
The name of the Internet's most popular directory, is an acronym. According to the company, the name "Yahoo" stands for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle."
If you add together all the numbers on a roulette wheel (1 to 36) the total is the mystical number 666.
If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
In Albania, nodding the head means "no" and shaking the head means "yes."
The original name for the butterfly was "flutterby."
The phrase "a red letter day" dates back to 1704, when holy days were marked in red letters in church calendars.
The pretzel is named from the Latin word "brachiatus" meaning "having branch-like arms."
In the Middle English the word "minister" meant "lowly person." It was originally adopted as a term of humility for men of the church.
Levan, Utah is "navel" spelled backwards. It is so named because it is in the middle of Utah.
The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "shah mat," which means "the king is dead."
The word "dreamt" is the only word in the English language that ends in "mt."
The word "Nazi" is actually an abbreviation. The party's full name was the Nazionalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartel.
Pinocchio is Italian for "pine eyes."
The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.
The word "toast," meaning a proposal of health, originated in Rome, where an actual bit of spiced, burned bread was dropped into wine to improve the drink's flavor, absorb its sediment, and thus make it more healthful.
The word "bookkeeper" is the only word in the English language with three back-to-back double letter combinations.
There is a town in Sweden called "A" and a town in France called "Y."
What is called a "French kiss" in England and America is known as an "English kiss" in France.
The dot on top of the letter "i" is called a "tittle." "Tittle" is Latin for something very small.
The shortest verse in the Bible consists of two words: "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)
The letter "o" is the oldest letter. It has not changed in shape since its adoption in the Phoenician alphabet, circa 1,300 B.C.
The letter "b" took its present form from a symbol used in Egyptian hieroglyphics to represent a house.
When used by an ornithologist, the word "lore" refers to the space between a bird's eye and its bill.
The longest English word consisting entirely of consonants (and not including"y" as a vowel) is the word "crwth" which is from the fourteenth century and means crowd.
The most common name in the world is Muhammed.
The most common street name in the U.S. is Second Street.
Henry Ford experimented with soy. Many of the meals served in his home consisted of his soy creations.
The French national anthem, "La Marseillaise," derived its title from the enthusiasm of the men of Marseilles, France, who sang it when they marched into Paris at the outset of the French Revolution. Rouget de l'Isle, its composer, was an artillery officer. According to his account, he fell asleep at a harpsichord and dreamt the words and the music. Upon waking, he remembered the entire piece from his dream and immediately wrote it down.
A law passed in Nebraska in 1912 really set down some hard rules of the road. Drivers in the country at night were required to stop every 150 yards, send up a skyrocket, then wait eight minutes for the road to clear before proceeding cautiously, all the while blowing their horn and shooting off flares.
Crocodiles and alligators are surprisingly fast on land. Although they are rapid, they are not agile; so if you ever find yourself chased by one, run in a zigzag line. You'll lose him or her every time.
In 1500 B.C. in Egypt a shaved head was considered the ultimate in feminine beauty. Egyptian women removed every hair from their heads with special gold tweezers and polished their scalps to a high sheen with buffing cloths.
In ancient China and certain parts of India, mouse meat was considered a great delicacy.
In ancient Greece, where the mouse was sacred to Apollo, mice were sometimes devoured by temple priests.
In 1400 B.C. it was the fashion among rich Egyptian women to place a large cone of scented grease on top of their heads and keep it there all day. As the day wore on, the grease melted and dripped down over their bodies, covering their skin with an oily, glistening sheen and bathing their clothes in fragrance.
In the United States, a pound of potato chips cost two hundred times more than a pound of potatoes.
Half the foods eaten throughout the world today were developed by farmers in the Andes Mountains. Potatoes, maize, sweet potatoes, squash, all varieties of beans, peanuts, manioc, papayas, strawberries, mulberries and many other foods were first grown in this region.
Blue whales weigh as much as 30 elephants and are as long as three Greyhound buses.
According to tests made at the Institute for the Study of Animal Problems in Washington, D.C., dogs and cats, like people, are either right-handed or left-handed--that is, they favor either their right or left paws.
A person cannot taste food unless it is mixed with saliva.
According to acupuncturists, there is a point on the head that you can press to control your appetite. It is located in the hollow just in front of the flap of the ear.
Tibetans, Mongolians, and people in parts of western China put salt in their tea instead of sugar.
In 1976, a Los Angeles secretary named Jannene Swift officially married a 50-pound rock. The ceremony was witnessed by more than 20 people.
In the early 19th century the words "trousers" and "pants" were considered obscene in England.
There is approximately one chicken for every human being in the world.
The first automobile race ever seen in the United States was held in Chicago in 1895. The track ran from Chicago to Evanston, Illinois. The winner was J. Frank Duryea, whose average speed was 7 miles per hour.
In the memoirs of Catherine II of Russia, it is recorded that any Russian aristocrat who displeased the queen was forced to squat in the great antechamber of the palace and to remain in that position for several days, mewing like a cat, clucking like a hen, and pecking his food from the floor.
The outdoor temperature can be estimated to within several degrees by timing the chirps of a cricket. It is done this way: count the number of chirps in a 15-second period, and add 37 to the total. The result will be very close to the actual Fahrenheit temperature. This formula only works in warm weather.
During a severe windstorm or rainstorm the Empire State Building may sway several feet to either side.
In Elizabethan England the spoon was such a novelty, such a prized rarity, that people carried their own folding spoons to banquets.
In "Gulliver's Travels," Jonathan Swift described the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, giving their exact size and speeds of rotation. He did this more than 100 years before either moon was discovered.
It costs more to buy a new car today in the United States than it cost Christopher Columbus to equip and undertake three voyages to and from the New World.
One-fourth of the world's population lives on less than $200 a year. Ninety million people survive on less than $75 a year.
Butterflies taste with their hind feet.
Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.
In eighteenth-century English gambling dens, there was an employee whose only job was to swallow the dice if there was a police raid.
The human tongue tastes bitter things with the taste buds toward the back. Salty and pungent flavors are tasted in the middle of the tongue, sweet flavors at the tip.
A sneeze can travel as fast as 100 miles per hour.
It is impossible to sneeze and keep one's eyes open at the same time.
In 1778, fashionable women of Paris never went out in blustery weather without a lightning rod attached to their hats.
In the Balanta tribe of Africa, a bride remained married until her wedding gown was worn out. If she wanted a divorce after 2 weeks, all she had to do was rip up her dress. This was the custom until about 20 years ago, anyway.
Marie de Medici, a member of that famous Italian family and a 17th-century queen of France, had expensive tastes in clothes. One special dress was outfitted with 39,000 tiny pearls and 3,000 diamonds, and cost the equivalent of $20 million at the time it was made in 1606. She wore it once.
Here is the literal translation of one of the standard traffic signs in China. It reads: "Give large space to the festive dog that makes sport in the roadway."
In 1968, a convention of beggars in Dacca, India, passed a resolution demanding that "the minimum amount of alms be fixed at 15 paisa (three cents)." The convention also demanded that the interval between when a person hears a knock at his front door and when he offers alms should not exceed 45 seconds.
A room with bath is perpetually reserved in one of Java's best hotels for the goddess of the South Sea, Njai Loro Kidul.
Although Buddhism began and first flourished in India, it had by 1200 all but disappeared there, but had won huge numbers of followers in Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, China and Japan.
In early eighteenth-century Portugal, the Church owned two-thirds of all the land.
According to Genesis 3:6, it was not Adam, but Eve who first ate the forbidden fruit.
The Jews and the early Christians started the day at sunset. "Christmas Eve" means, accordingly, the first part of Christmas Day, and it was only later that it came to be considered as the evening before Christmas. The same goes for New Year's Eve.
During the high Middle Ages, there was, on the average, a church for every 200 people.
Before the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1952, 25 percent of the males in the country were Buddhist monks.
The Puritans forbade the singing of Christmas carols.
In the eleventh century Benedict IX was Pope at eleven years old.
The ceremony to marry an Amish couple traditionally takes about 3 hours 30 minutes.
Bookstore owners in Raleigh, North Carolina, contend that the volume most often stolen year after year is the Bible.
The word "Hallelujah" is common to all languages. It is never translated.
At one time, Martin Luther was the recognized authority on evicting the Devil. Satan pestered Luther with frequent visits and even showered him with hickory nuts on one occasion. The militant leader of the Reformation had other means of dealing with the Devil. In one encounter, Luther threw dung in the Devil's face. In another, he broke wind at him.
Among the Jews of ancient Palestine, there was a specific dietary proscription against mousemeat.
The story of Noah's Ark was written earlier than the biblical version--in the Sumerian "Epic of Gilgamesh." The "Noah" of this epic is Utnapishtim, who is supernaturally warned to build a boat in which to survive the deluge. Similarity extends even to the sending out of birds to see if dry land has appeared.
Nowhere in the Bible does it mention that Jesus was ever a carpenter as most people think. Although Matthew 13:55 states that he was a carpenter's son, and Mark 6:3 tells that people called him a carpenter, there is no other reference in the Bible indicating the occupation of Jesus.
The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is one of the few shrines in the world simultaneously sacred to three religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Forty-seven Bibles are sold or distributed throughout the world every minute of the day.
Of the 156 women college presidents in the United States in 1979, 105 were nuns.
One has to wonder why the day when Jesus died is called "Good Friday." In its earlier, archaic meaning, the word "good" was synonymous with "holy" and was often used as a euphemism for God.
The Papacy has a startling sexual history. Pope Sergius III arranged, with the help of his mother, that his bastard should become Pope after him. John VII, deposed in A.D. 963, turned St. John Lateran into a brothel: he was accused of adultery and incest. Leo VIII, who replaced him, died stricken in paralysis in the act of adultery. Benedict IX, elected Pope at the age of ten, grew up "in unrestrained license, and shocked the sensibilities even of a dull and barbarous age." Balthasar Cossa, elected Pope to end the Great Schism, later admitted to incest, adultery, and other crimes ("two hundred maids, matrons and widows, including a few nuns, fell victims to his brutal lust)." In one famous occurrence at the court of Pope Alexander VI, prostitutes were called to dance naked before the assembly, after which prizes were offered to those men who, in the opinion of the spectators, managed to copulate with the most number of prostitutes.
The animal that can last the longest without drinking water is the rat.
A stingray never actually sees the food as it eats, since its eyes are on top of its head and its mouth and nostrils are on the bottom.
On an island in northern Wales there's a village called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch.
The fastest of all fish in the sea is the swordfish. They reach speeds of close to 70 miles per hour.
The raccoon derives its name from the Indian word meaning "he who scratches with his hands."
The word "puppy" comes from the French poupee, meaning "doll."
Until the 1950s, Tibetans disposed of their dead by taking the body up a hill, hacking it into little pieces, and feeding the remains to the birds.
Horse-racing regulations state that no race horse's name may contain more than 18 letters. (Actually, it's 18 letters or spaces, total.) Names that are too long would be cumbersome on racing sheets.
The Popsicle was invented by eleven-year-old Frank Epperson in 1905. He left a container of soda and a stirrer outside overnight and in the morning discovered them frozen together.
The first plastic ever invented was celluloid, it came about as an alternative for billiard balls made from Ivory.
Snails have teeth. They are arranged in rows along the snail's tongue and are used like a file to saw or slice through the snail's food.
Cicadas have their hearing organs in their stomachs, at the base of the abdomen. Crickets have their hearing organs in their knees, or, more precisely, in the oval slit of their forelegs.
Birds played a role in aerial warfare during World War I. Because of their acute hearing, parrots were kept on the Eiffel Tower to warn of approaching aircraft long before the planes were heard or seen by human spotters.
There are about 40 different muscles in a birds wing.
It takes 4,000 crocuses to produce a single ounce of saffron.
Soldiers arrived to fight the Battle of Marne in World War I not on foot or by military airplane or military vehicle--but by taxi cabs. France took over all the taxi cabs in Paris to get soldiers to the front.
At sea level there are 2,000 pounds of air pressure on each square foot of your body.
Because its tongue is too short for its beak, the toucan must juggle its food before swallowing it.
The Hershey Foods Corporation can produce 30 three million Hershey's Kisses in one day of production.
Rice is the chief food for half the people in the world.
The nutritional value of squash and pumpkin seeds improves with age. These seeds are among the few
foods that increase in nutritional value as they decompose.
Honey is the only food that doesn't spoil.
Talmudists believe Adam and Eve resided in paradise a mere 12 hours before they were kicked out.
With few exceptions, birds do not sing while on the ground. They sing during flight or while sitting on an object off the ground.
Lewis Carroll wrote 98,721 letters in the last 37 years of his life.
Cinderella is known as "Tuna" in Finland.
A bear has 42 teeth.
Dogs might nip at a toad, but they won't eat them. The experts suspect that there's something emitted from the toad's skin that makes the dog let go instantly.
Dog urine damages grass, shrubs and other plant life due to "urine burn." It's caused by ammonia and urea contained in canine urine. The urine makes the soil too acidic.
There's a law in Chicago that prohibits folks from feeding whiskey to canines.
They can't be sure why, but it is best to put a dog up on a table to groom it. It's not just for the groomer's comfort. Something about the altitude simmers a pup down.
When two dogs approach each other, the one that will be in charge wags its tail very slowly, rather than that quick wag-wag-wag. If both wag slowly, watch out.
It's against the law for dogs to chase or even worry squirrels on the grounds of the state capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The chief of police in Wingate, North Carolina, is required by law to execute any dog he finds running in heat if he can't find the owner in four days.
The greyhound can reach speeds of up to 41.7 miles per hour.
Dogs don't "sweat with their tongues" as is often said. The only sweat glands of significance on a dog are in the soles of their feet. Dogs cool themselves primarily by rapid breathing, which is why they pant after running. When a dog sticks its tongue out, he does so because it is moist and evaporation helps to cool it...not because he is sweating.
The "sic" command comes from a corruption of the German word "such," pronounced "sook," which means seek or search. The meaning and pronunciation have been altered over time.
Dogs tilt their heads when you talk to them because they want you to know they are listening--without staring at you (as that's a sign of aggression.) The tilt might also aide them in seeing us better, as each of their eyes sees half the world with little overlap in the fields of vision.
Dogs put their heads out of car windows out of visual curiosity. (They like a cool breeze, too.) But blowing in a dog's ear is another matter. It can be painful because of the sound of the blowing--the frequency drives them nuts.
In Bristol, England, there is a law stating that a dog (but not a cat) has the right to observe sexual activities and can't be kicked out of bed just for getting in the way.
The expression "dog days" goes back to the Romans, who believed that in the hottest part of the summer, Sirius (the "dog star" and the brightest star in the constellation) lent its own heat to the heat of the sun. The Roman "dog days" lasted from July 3 to August 11.
Dogs in the wild seldom, if ever, bark. Only those dogs who have come into contact with humans or other domesticated dogs exhibit this behavior. Wolves, foxes, wild dogs and other canines only howl, growl, snarl, yelp or whine, but do not bark. The reason for this is not known, but it is believed the barking sounds of domesticated dogs are an attempt to imitate human sounds.
A barking dog is not usually a sign of aggressive behavior. Barking is the domesticated dogs' alarm to others in his pack--canine or human--that something is wrong or that an intruder is present. It is the silent, snarling or growling dog that is actually most dangerous.
The word "terrier" comes from the Latin root "terra," meaning earth.
The Kerry Blue is from County Kerry, Ireland.
"Dog kennel" is redundant. The Latin "canis" (dog) served as the base for the word "canile" (dog house.) This word entered French as "kenel", which the English changed to kennel. Thus, a kennel couldn't technically be for anything else but dogs.
By the way, the Canary Islands were so named because of the many wild dogs which roamed it when the Romans landed there. (Recall, "dog" in Latin was "canis"...so they called the islands "canaria insula"--"the island of dogs.")