A Bit of Trivia

Margaret Lee mlee303 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Mar 3 12:00:36 UTC 2001

> 1. In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by
> ropes.
>  When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the
> bed
> firmer to sleep on. that's where the phrase, "goodnight, sleep
> tight" came from.
>  2. The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,"
> Uses every
>  letter in the alphabet. (developed by Western Union to test
> telex/twx
>  communications.)
>  3. The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every
> year
>  because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account
> the
> weight of all the books that would occupy the building.
>  4. The term "the whole nine yards" came from W.W.II fighter pilots
> in the
>  Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the 50 caliber
>  machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being
> loaded into
>  the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it
> got "the
>  whole nine yards."
>  5. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law
> which
>  stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than
> your
>  thumb.
>  6. The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for
> the
>  "General Purpose" vehicle, GP.
>  7. The first toilet ever seen on television was on "Leave It To
> Beaver."
>  8. It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that
> for a
> month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his
> son-in-law with
> all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because
> their calendar
>  was lunar based, this period was called the "honey month" or what
> we know
>  today as the honeymoon."
>  9. In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old
> England,  when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at
> them to mind their
>  own pints and quarts and settle down. It's where we get the phrase
> "mind
>  your P's and Q's"
>  10. Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked
> into
> the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill,
> they used
>  the whistle to get some service. "Wet your whistle," is the phrase
> inspired by this practice.

Margaret G. Lee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor - English and Linguistics
 & University Editor
Department of English
Hampton University, Hampton, VA 23668
e-mail:  mlee303 at yahoo.com  or  margaret.lee at hamptonu.edu

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