Category Archives: Language

Why White People are Sometimes Called “Caucasian”

Kathy B. asks: Why do we call white people Caucasian? Throughout history a variety of ways to scientifically classify different groups of humans have popped up, most notable to the story today being a system suggested by pioneering social scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, often considered the “father of scientific anthropology.” Building upon other’s classification schemes, including Carl Linnaeus and Christoph […]

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Math or Maths?

Travis T. asks: Why do Americans say “math” and other English speaking countries say “maths”? Aluminium or aluminum, zee or zed, and removing u’s from certain words or not- among the many discrepancies between American and British English, perhaps none conjures as much religious fervor as math vs. maths. So which one is correct? Well, really neither is technically more […]

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Apparently We’ve All Been Saying “UFO” Wrong?

We here at TodayIFoundOut are firmly in the camp that language is constantly evolving and grammar lives to serve language and effective communication, not the other way around. Putting aside the issue of unintentional mistakes, intentional use of atypical grammar isn’t really something to get inherently upset or high and mighty about. And certainly those who claim some word, like […]

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Are the “Snozzberries” in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Referring to Male Genitalia?

Domenic V. asks: Is it true that the snozzberries in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory were dicks? Given the dark undercurrent of Roald Dahl’s works, perhaps it wouldn’t be surprising if his famous snozzberries mentioned in the book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) made into the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), were, in fact, penises. […]

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Do Words Get Removed from a Dictionary When People Stop Using Them?

Kerry U. asks: When words fall out of usage are they removed from the dictionary? The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is generally regarded as the single most comprehensive record of the English language to exist. Included in this work are many thousands of words considered completely “obsolete” by lexicographers. You see, in something of a Hotel California […]

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Why is it Called “Going Dutch” When You Pay for Yourself?

Michael W. asks: Why is splitting the tab and paying for yourself called Dutch? The idea of paying for yourself when out with friends being referred to as some expression including the word “Dutch,” seemingly incorrectly is often connected to the fact that for several centuries beginning in the 17th, the word Dutch had a negative connotation in English, variously […]

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What’s a MacGuffin in Films and Why is It Called That?

Shih C. asks: Why are McGuffin’s in films called that? In the last scene of the 1941 film classic, The Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade (played by Humphrey Bogart) hands over a murderer (played by Mary Astor) and a black falcon statuette to authorities. When asked what the statuette was exactly, Spade looks off in the distance and rather unsatisfactorily explains, […]

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Where Did the Saying “I’ll Eat My Hat” Come From?

Jeremiah C. asks: Did people actually used to eat their hats? If not, where did the expression come from? “I’ll eat my hat” is an utterance commonly used when a person is absolutely certain that something will not happen. But where did this unusual phrase first originate and have there ever been any recorded instances of people actually eating their […]

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