Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while
women's clothes have buttons on the left?
When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by
the rich. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on
the right through holes on the left. Because wealthy women were dressed by
maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right! And that's where women's
buttons have remained since.
Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for
comes from the French word m'aidez -meaning 'help me' -- and is pronounced,
Why are zero scores in tennis called
France , where tennis became popular, the round zero on the scoreboard looked
like an egg and was called 'l'oeuf,' which is French for 'the egg.' When tennis
was introduced in the US , Americans (mis)pronounced it
Why do X's at the end of a letter signify
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.
Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called 'passing the
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 of dealing, he would 'pass the buck' to the next
Why do people clink their glasses before drinking 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 only touch or clink the host's glass with his
Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses
and theaters by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In
the theatre, a performer 'in the limelight' was the center of
is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?
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.
In golf, where did the term 'Caddie' come
When Mary Queen of Scots went to France as a young girl, Louis,
King of France, learned that she loved the Scots game 'golf.' He had the first
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 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
dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a 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 container
that resembled a pig. And it caught on.