25 interesting things we never knew about the English language

Are you a bit of a grammar fiend? Do you love the written word? Here’s some interesting facts about the

Are you a bit of a grammar fiend? Do you love the written word? Here’s some interesting facts about the English language that we wanted to share with you!

  1. Dreamt is the only word in the English language that ends in “mt”
  2. While most people believe that no English word rhymes with “orange”, that is not true. “Sporange” is a rare botanical term referring to part of a fern.
  3. The oldest word in English is “who” which has been around for 20,000 years.
  4. In the 17th century, magpies were nicknamed pie-maggots.
  5. The part of a wall between two windows is called the interfenestration.
  6. If you were to write out every number name in full (one, two, three, four...), you wouldn’t use a single letter B until you reached one billion.
  7. The infinity sign, ∞, is called a lemniscate. Its name means “decorated with ribbons” in Latin.
  8. The shortest -ology is oology, the scientific study of eggs.
  9. 11% of the entire English language is just the letter E.
  10. Happy is used three times more often in English than sad.
  11. Checkbook is the longest horizontally symmetrical word in the English language — although if proper nouns are included, Florida’s Lake Okeechobee is one letter longer.
  12. Aghast literally means “frightened by a ghost”.
  13. The longest word in the English language has 189,819 letters. It’s the full chemical name of titin, a protein that controls the movement of muscles.
  14. Time is the commonest noun in the English language. Followed by person in 2nd, day in 3rd, way in 4th, and year in 5th. Man and woman come in at 7th and 14th place.
  15. Casino literally means ‘little house’.
  16. No one knows for sure what the name London means.
  17. The expression flavour of the month was originally used in an ice cream advertisement in the 1940s.
  18. Four has four letters. It’s the only self-counting number in the English language.
  19. The day after tomorrow is called the overmorrow.
  20. “I am” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
  21. Half of all the language you’ll ever use will be just the same 100 words, used over and over again.
  22. “You” is the 18th most common word in English, while “me” only clocks in at number 50.
  23. There are over 50 countries around the world that use English as an official language, including Ghana, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
  24. The dot above a lowercase “i” or “j” is called a “tittle.”
  25. Author Ernest Vincent Wright once wrote an entire novel – just over 50,000 words – without using the letter “e”… at all.

Do you have a fact you’d like to add?

  1. Re Number 11. The word is ‘chequebook’ in proper English.

  2. I can be a little anal about correct spelling and pronunciation

  3. Hence the expression “a tittle or a jot’ meaning next to nothing, one assumes

    • a jot – in the old meaning – is a very small amount. So not a jot nor tittle probably means just what you said – next to nothing/avery small amount.

    • Jot or tittle means every detail and the jot is the stroke going across the written letter ‘t’.

  4. Ah yes, where I sit at the PC I can reach
    – The Oxford Dictionary;
    – Usage & Abusage by Eric Partridge;
    – Fowler’s Modern English Usage;
    – A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H.W. Fowler;
    – Roget’s Thesaurus.

    Then if I get up and go to other bookshelves there more dictionaries and reference books.

    The one which gets to me is the use of “that” instead of “who” or “which”.

    One thing I did learn a few years ago was we can use “who or which” when referring to a cow. However it is only “which” when referring to a bull. B|

  5. excuse me but it is chequebook! If you are going to post about English, please get it right. I’m assuming this came from an american source. So glad happy is used much more often than sad.

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