18 Things You Never Knew Actually Had Names

What’s the name for the the holes in Swiss cheese? Eyes. The state of being full of beer? Gambrinous. Dazzle your friends and family with this list of truly weird one-of-a-kind words.

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tie shoe run


The plastic covering on the end of a shoelace is an aglet. They make it easy for laces to wave through your shoes without unraveling. In ancient Rome, wealthy people made their aglets out of metal, not the plastic of today.

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Your columella is the bottom part of your nose that separates your nostrils. Some people have more of a hanging columella that you could change with plastic surgery. You’ll sound smarter if you drop columella or one of these Latin phrases that make you sound smarter in conversation.

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Background of ripe red raspberries, close up


The bumps on raspberries or blackberries have their own name—drupelets. Raspberries and blueberries are technically “aggregate fruits” because their flowers form drupelets instead of whole fruit, per dictionary.com.

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A pencil eraser removing a written mistake on a piece of paper.
Oleksiy Rezin/Shutterstock


A ferrule is a ring or cap of metal that strengthens or joins two things. One example of a ferrule is the metal band on the top of a pencil that holds an eraser in place. The word also refers to the cap at the end of a cane, the knob at the hub of an umbrella, and the tube or pipe that fits together with a handle to a paintbrush.

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Two ping-pong rackets and a ball on a green table. Close-up, ping-pong net.


Pips are the little bumps on the surface of a ping pong paddle. Paddles could have long or short pips, depending on the type of table tennis. Short pips are the more common style.

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Woman nails
Leszek Czerwonka/Shutterstock


Purlicue refers to the space between the extended thumb and index finger. But it actually has more than one odd meaning. In Scottish, the word means a flourish at the end of a pen stroke, or the end of a discourse.

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health, people and hearing concept - close up of young african american woman ear
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The tragus is the little lump of flesh in front of the ear canal. When you want to cover your ears from noise, it’s the little nub that you press down.

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Raw vegetable and fruit juices in glass bottles
Yakov Oskanov/Shutterstock


The empty space between the bottle top and the liquid is an ullage. This leaves enough space, so bottles don’t leak.

Now that you know what ullage means (and how to spell it!), check out the 15 hardest words to spell in the English language.

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portrait of a beautiful cat


Vibrissae is another word for a cat’s whiskers. The word was originally meant to refer to human nostril hairs, according to Merriam-Webster.

Get to know more words from the first dictionary that no longer exist!

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violin, holes in violins


The opening in a violin is an F-hole. The violin previously had half-moon, flame, S-shape, and other designs before the standard F-hole.

Check out more little-known words guaranteed to make you a Scrabble champ.

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Close up photo of antique typewriter keys, shallow focus
Photo: Stokkete/Shutterstock


An eggcorn is a word or a phrase that is often used by mistake for another. For example, a common eggcorn is for “all intensive purposes” instead of, the correct, “all intents and purposes.” It’s one of the grammatical errors even smart people make.

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Rain on asphalt or tarmac road creating ripples, high contrast during autumn.
Stefan Holm/Shutterstock


If you love the smell of fresh air after rain stops, you appreciate petrichor. This pleasant smell is thanks to a mix of bacteria, plants, and lightning, BBC reports.

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A close up portrait of a beautiful brunette
Andrew Angelov/Shutterstock


The glabella is the flat piece of skin between the eyebrows.

Want to put your vocabulary to the test? Take a stab at these real Jeopardy! questions about words.

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Close up white bedding sheets and pillow, Messy bed concept
iMoved Studio/Shutterstock


The feeling you have where you can’t get out of bed has a name: dysania. Although it’s not an official condition, the BBC reports that the behaviour isn’t just feeling sleepier than usual. It’s often seen in people suffering from depression. Learn to spot the silent signs of high functioning depression.

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Pen and book, close up
Africa Studio/Shutterstock


One of the common running jokes about doctors is their awful handwriting. And their scrawl has a name, griffonage. The French word means careless or illegible handwriting. You can easily drop this word into a conversation along with these 25 new words added to the dictionary this year.

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Black chess pieces pursuing a white pawn


Zugzwang doesn’t roll off the tongue, but it does refer to something people have to do often: something that you don’t want to do. The word specifically refers to a chess game strategy where a player is forced to make a move that they don’t want to make.

Check out these separate words everyone combines into one—but shouldn’t!

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Extreme Close-up Photo Of African Woman's Eye
Photo: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock


If you ever get sand in your eye, it likely ends up in the caruncle—the small, pink inner corner of the eye. It’s one of the parts of the body that gets very little credit. Neither do these 8 strange body parts and their surprising purposes.

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Raven (Corvus corax)
Piotr Krzeslak/Shutterstock

An unkindness

Nope, an unkindness doesn’t just refer to something cruel. A group of ravens is actually called an unkindness. The phrase stems from the fact that ravens have higher stress levels when they travel in a pack. An unkindness is sort of one of the words that don’t mean what you think they do.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest