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17 Facts About Words That'll Low-Key Blow Your Mind

The acronym OMG goes all the way back to 1917.

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3. SOS doesn't actually stand for "save our souls (or ship)".


That's because it's a backronym! Acronyms are formed from phrases or names that exist beforehand, like NASA and NATO, but backronyms are words assigned to a set of initials that spell out a particular word or words after they're coined. People like to say "SOS" is an acronym for "save our ship (or souls)", but SOS was chosen as a distress signal because it was so easy to send that chain of letters in Morse code. Other popular backronyms include SAD (as in Seasonal Affective Disorder), AMBER Alert, and APGAR test.


6. The acronym OMG goes all the way back to 1917.


Don't blame the depraved teens and millennials for OMG being in the dictionary — its first recorded use was by none other than Winston Churchill in a letter he wrote at the beginning of the 20th century.

7. The word "sleight" in the phrase "sleight of hand" is a fossil word — it doesn't have any meaning in the English language anymore.


A fossil word is one that's survived because it's part of an idiom, but is obsolete otherwise. "Sleight" was a Middle English word meaning trickery or cunning, but now, it basically means nothing. Other fossil words include ado, bandy, bated, beck, and bygones.

8. And then there's the word "dord," a ghost word that was coined in 1934.


What's a ghost word, you ask? It's basically a word that was created by mistake or accident. Dord is probably the most famous example of one; it was defined in Webster's New International Dictionary as a noun meaning "density" even though it wasn't really a word. What happened was that a card that said "D or d" moved from the "abbreviations" stack to the "words" stack when words for that dictionary edition were being defined. Lexicographers realized the mistake in 1939, but the legend behind it persists.


11. The word "goodbye" is derived from a contraction of the Old English phrase "God be with you".

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Back in the day, people would bid each other farewell with a kind "God be with ye." Over time, they got lazy and shortened it to "godbwye," which eventually became the "goodbye" we know and use today.


14. The word "noon" originally referred to 3 pm.

It's a long story, but essentially, "noon" originally signified the ninth hour of daylight, which before the 1200s or so, was around 3 pm. The word for "nine" in Old English was "non," which, as with a lot of words, eventually morphed into the word we know today, noon.