Tag Archives: language

“To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before” is Thought to Have Been Inspired by a Line from a White House Pamphlet on Space

Certain members of the Star Trek cast and creators stand in front of the Shuttle Enterprise

Today I found out the famous Star Trek line “…to boldly go where no one has gone before” is thought to have been inspired by a passage in a White House issued pamphlet on space. Specifically, it is thought to be from this passage in the pamphlet, “Introduction to Outer Space“: It is useful to distinguish among four factors which […]

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“Nephew” Used to Refer to Both Boys and Girls


“Nephew” at one time was a gender neutral term, but since around the 17th century has referred nearly exclusively to male children of one’s siblings or brother/sister-in-law’s children.  The word “nephew” comes from the Old French “neveu” meaning “grandson, descendant”, which in turn comes from the Latin “nepotem”, meaning “sister’s son, grandson, or descendant”.  The first documented case of “nephew” […]

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Why Carbonated Beverages Are Called “Soft Drinks”

Crown Cork

Today I found out why flavored carbonated beverages are called “soft drinks”. It turns out, soft drinks aren’t just flavored carbonated beverages.  “Soft Drink” refers to nearly all beverages that do not contain significant amounts of alcohol (hard drinks). The term “soft drink” though is now typically used exclusively for flavored carbonated beverages.  This is actually due to advertising.  Flavored […]

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The Words “Blond” and “Blonde” are Not Wholly Synonymous

Blonde Hair

Today I found out the words “blond” and “blonde” are not wholly synonymous.  So what’s the difference between the words “blond” and “blonde”? (besides the obvious extra ‘e’) The difference is simply in what gender the word is referring.  When referring to a woman with yellow hair, you should use the feminine spelling “blonde”.  When referring to a male with […]

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There is Nothing That Comes After Once, Twice, Thrice

English Sign

Today I found out there is nothing that comes after the sequence “once, twice, thrice”. Interestingly, even though these words are roughly equivalent, differing only in the numeric value they refer to, it is now considered poor English to use “thrice” instead of the equivalent “three times”.  At the same time, it is considered poor English to use “one time” […]

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Where the Word “Algebra” Came From


Today I found out the origins of the word “Algebra”. It all started back around 825 AD when a man named Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, the “father” of Algebra, wrote a book called “Kitab al-jabr wa al-muqabalah”.  This roughly translates to “Rules of Reintegration and Reduction”.  This work was specifically covering the branch of mathematics we now know […]

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