25 Curious But True Facts About The English Language

Dord

Dord

For some reason, way back in 1934, Websters managed to include a made-up word (I guess that all words are made-up in a sense, but you know what I mean). It wasn't until five years later that somebody actually noticed the word "dord" - which isn't a real word.

On the plus side, if you came up with your own word now, you could refer to it as a "dord". Are we confused yet? I am.

No E

No E

Gadsby: A Lipogram Novel written by Ernest Vincent Wright, is about fifty thousand words long and yet somehow, none of those words contain the letter "e".



Dreamt

Dreamt

Dreamt is the only word in the English language which ends with "mt". Try and prove me wrong...

Orange

Orange

You know how people like to point out how smart they are by telling you that there are no words in the English language that rhyme with "orange"? Well, they're wrong.

"Sporange" is a little-used but totally legit words that refers to a certain part of a plant in the fern family.



Scraunched

Scraunched

The longest word monosyllabic word in the English language is "scraunched" clocking in at ten letters - count em!

Sure, it's pretty much obsolete by now (hasn't been used since the early 1600s) and therefore, you may or may not want to include it as an actual word. But we're not playing Scrabble here and so I give you "scraunched"; a verb meaning "strengthen", "force", and "summon one's strength".

Shelf Life

Shelf Life

Words have a shelf life. They typically last anywhere between one and twenty thousand years.



Who

Who

The word "who" has enjoyed the longest time in the Sun of all the modern words used.

Some Other Oldies

Some Other Oldies

A few of the other senior citizens of the English language that have been around for much closer to 20,000 years than 1,000 include words such as "I" and the numbers "two" and "three". "One" is much younger, however.



That's A Lot Of Words!

That's A Lot Of Words!

There are more words in English than any other language. In fact, many suggest that there are twice as many in English as there are in the language with the second most words. Either way, English has somewhere in the ball park of two billion words.

No, that's not a typo. Two billion!

How Many Do You Know?

How Many Do You Know?

The thing is (and I don't want to judge you and suggest that you're not very smart - for all I know you're a genius) you probably only know a relatively small fraction of them. The average English-speaking person knows about fifty thousand words.



Making Words

Making Words

New words are being created all the time. I mean that literally. Estimates suggest that a new English word springs up a bit more than every 90 minutes!

Ruining Scrabble?

Ruining Scrabble?

So, with about 4,000 words being added each and every year, Scrabble has got to get easier and easier, doesn't it?



The English Speaking World

The English Speaking World

About one in four of the countries in the world include English as either their only official language, or one of their official languages.

Tittle

Tittle

The only time you're ever likely to be able to use this bit of information is when attending a trivia night, but you never know, it could win you a free beer (or whatever crappy prizes they have on offer)....

The dot that goes on top of an "i" or a "j" is called a "tittle". You're welcome.



Drunk Words

Drunk Words

The Guinness Book of World Records lists the word "drunk" as taking the title for having the most synonyms in the English language with 2,964.

Alphabetical Order

Alphabetical Order

Again, probably not one with a practical application but then again, what does?! The longest word in the English language where all of the words are arranged alphabetically is "aegilops", with "almost" errmmm, almost winning in second place.

...And in case you're wondering because that's the type of person you are, aegilops is a genus of grass.



One Quarter Of Your Words

One Quarter Of Your Words

One quarter of all the words you ever use (assuming you're an average person) will be confined to the following; the, be, to, of, and, a, in ,that, have, and I.

Also, here's a picture of a sexy woman with a surfboard, for no reason.

Hangry

Hangry

Okay so "hangry" isn't a real word no matter how much you want it to be. But "hungry" and "angry" uncombined are real words, and they also happen to be the only two which end in "-gry". You're welcome once again.



I am

I am

This is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. No, not literally that last sentence. The words "I am"!

Ough

Ough

As if to demonstrate how ridiculous English is, here's nine ways that "ough" cna be pronounced, all in the same handy sentence;

"A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed."



Rhythm

Rhythm

Have you ever noticed how the word "rhythm" does not have a vowel? I mean, the "y" kind of functions as one but it is not a true vowel. Anyway, the whole thing males "rhythm" the longest word without a vowel. That's end of that story.

That That That...etc

That That That...etc

Try and find fault with this following sentence (hint: you can't);

"It is true for all that that that that that that that refers to is not the same that that that that refers to."

...And for getting to through that sentence, you deserve another picture of a sexy woman with a surfboard.



Alpha and Beta

Alpha and Beta

The first two letters of the Greek alphabet are "alpha" and "beta" ...And the alphabet is called the "alphabet". See where we're going with that one...?

Pangram

Pangram

A sentence containing all of the 26 letters of the alphabet is called a pangram.



Yeah, I Figured You'd Want An Example

Yeah, I Figured You'd Want An Example

Here's the most famous pangram we know of (shh, don't tell anyone it's the only pangram I can think of!);

"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."