Everyday Things That You Didn’t Realize Had A Name

The English language has over 170,000 words that are in use, and over 47,000 that are obsolete. Obsolete words are ones that people don’t know or don’t use. Even everyday things–such as armholes in clothing and the space between your forefinger and thumb–have a name. Learn the official names of these everyday things; you’ve probably never heard them before!

The Small Cups That Hold Condiments

Some restaurants provide tiny metal or paper cups that hold condiments such as ketchup and barbecue sauce. They are called soufflé cups, after the French egg-based dish that they were originally designed to hold.

A tiny cup holds ketchup for french fries in a restaurant.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Soufflé cups are widely available in stores and online. You can buy plastic and ceramic versions at Amazon, Walmart, or Home Depot. They also come in a variety of sizes for dishes such as brownies, ice cream, or real soufflé.

The Space Between Your Forefingers And Thumb

Thankfully, humans have opposable thumbs. (It would be hard to go through life without one!) But the thumb is far apart from the rest of the fingers. When you look at the space between your forefinger and thumb, know that it’s called the “purlicue”.

A woman's hand reaches upward.
Sindy Süßengut/Unsplash
Sindy Süßengut/Unsplash

Purlicues are a natural result of evolution. Although many animals have purlicues, they also have different finger lengths. For instance, chimpanzees have longer thumbs than humans, meaning that they have more advanced hands, according to a 2015 study in Science.

The “You Are Here” Mark On Maps

Whether you are navigating a mall or checking Google Maps, you’ll know where you are based on the “you are here” mark. These marks usually look like a red upside-down teardrop. If you want to sound professional, call these by their name: “ideo locators.”

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“Ideo locator” is an unofficial term for these symbols. It does not have an official dictionary definition yet, but developers will often use it. Until you start developing maps, you probably won’t hear it spoken.

The Metal Connector Between The Pencil And The Eraser

The metal band that attaches the pencil to the eraser is called a “ferrule.” Believe it or not, pencils did not always have ferrules. They were invented by Hymen L. Lipman, who patented the first pencil with an attached eraser in 1858.

A close-up photo shows someone erasing math problems with a pencil.
Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Wodicka/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The pencil company Faber picked up on this invention and started mass-producing them. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court did not back up Lipman, as his patent was made from two things that already existed. Pencils have been made with ferrules ever since.

The Banana Strings That Appear Beneath The Peel

When people peel a banana, little strings of banana peel off, too. Those annoying strings are called “phloem bundles.” A phloem is a vascular tissue that transports nutrients to plants, such as sugar.

A woman pulls a string off of a peeled banana.

Phloems start in the leaves and end in an area called “the sink.” Sinks are usually in seed-bearing fruits, including apples and avocados. In other words, every banana you will ever peel will have phloem bundles. But they are a sign that the banana grew healthily.

The Tiny Plastic Table In The Middle Of Pizzas

Have you ever wondered why pizzas come with a miniature table in the middle? This invention is called a “pizza saver,” and its name says it all. This tiny table prevents the lid of the box from crushing the pizza.

A tiny table is in the middle of a delivered pizza.

According to Wikipedia, most people throw away the pizza saver. But some have found another use for it; they turn it upside-down and use it to hold eggs! The next time you get a pizza delivered, save it for your eggs.

The Plastic Caps On The Ends Of Shoelaces

At the ends of shoelaces, there are little plastic wraps. These bits are called “aglets”. According to The Sneaker Factory, aglets prevent the laces from unraveling. They also help people thread the laces through shoes.

A broken shoelace is seen under a tennis player's shoe.
GREG WOOD/AFP via Getty Images
GREG WOOD/AFP via Getty Images

The word “aglet” has other meanings, too. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, aglets are also “any of various ornamental studs, cords, or pins worn on clothing.” Unless you make clothes for a living, you probably haven’t heard that word much.

The Dot Over An “i”

When learning to write, students remember to put little dots on the tops of “i” and “j.” These tiny dots have a term: “tittle.” Yes, the little dot on top of certain letters is called a tittle.

A sheet of paper shows several ways to write the letter
Donna McMaster/Pinterest
The Singing Walrus – English Songs For Kids/YouTube

The word “tittle” technically means “a tiny amount or part of something.” People rarely use the word to describe language. Even so, the word describes any small symbol above a letter, from “j” to “é” to “ữ.” You can find tittles in dozens of languages.

The Armhole In Clothing

Whether you are putting on a shirt, tank top, or jacket, you have to slip your arms through little holes. These holes have a name: “armscye.” Although it is spelled like “scythe,” it is a Scottish term pronounced like “arm’s eye.”

A woman wears a coat without her arms in the arm holes.
Christian Vierig/Getty Images
Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Tailors use the term armscye to describe the sewing pattern of these armholes. Specifically, armscyes are an opening in the garment designed to attach a sleeve. Outside of that field, you would have no use for the word.

The Measuring Device For Shoe Size

Have you ever had your foot size measured? Every store uses the same device to measure a person’s foot, even though different countries have different sizes. This tool is called a “Brannock Device”.

A Brannock Device is next to Autographs signed by Anthony Munoz.
Joey Foley/Getty Images for Payless ShoeSource
Joey Foley/Getty Images for Payless ShoeSource

Thank Charles F. Brannock, the son of a shoe industry entrepreneur, for this tool. Since he patented the device in 1925, Brannock enhanced it to measure width, length, and arch. If you’d like to, you can purchase a Brannock device on Amazon or eBay.

The Bumps On Raspberries

What do raspberries, blackberries, and boysenberries have in common? They aren’t just berries; they’re bramble fruits. Brambles are fruits that grow from rough, prickly shrubs. These fruits also have tiny bumps all over them, and called “drupelets.”

A few blueberries are on top of raspberry containers.
Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Fruits that have hard centers surrounded by the fleshy part–such as peaches–are called drupes. Drupelets, then, are smaller drupes. They’re tiny bits of fruit that grow from multiple sources, resulting in bumps. But you don’t have to know the biology to enjoy these berries.

The Cardboard Sleeves On To-Go Coffee Cups

When you order coffee to-go, you can get a cardboard sleeve for it. These sleeves will prevent your hands from burning. But many people don’t know that this has a name; it’s called a “zarf.”

A Starbucks to-go cup has a sleeve to not burn peoples' hands.
James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images
James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

Metal and silver zarfs date back to 13th-century Turkey. However, the modern cardboard zarf was invented in 1991 by Jay Sorensen. Most people call it a coffee sleeve nowadays, but they are also known as paper zarfs. If you want to confuse a barista, ask for a zarf.

Song Lyrics That Don’t Have Any Meaning

If you were to Google the lyrics to Justin Bieber’s song “Boyfriend,” you would find a verse that just says Nanana, nanana, nanana… nanana, nanana…Words like “na na” and “la la” don’t have any meaning, but they are still lyrics. These lyrics are called “vocables”.

The lyrics function of Spotify is pictured on a phone.
Charles Deluvio/Unsplash
Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

Many songs contain vocables, whether to fill space or contribute to the melody. They are different from acapella, which uses voices to create all of the sounds in a song.

The Groove Between The Nose And The Lips

Between a person’s nose and lips is a small groove. Some children learn that this groove comes from an angel’s touch. Officially, it is called the “philtrum.” This stems from the ancient Greek word phíltron, or “love charm.”

A close-up photograph shows a woman's lips.
Melissa Di Rocco/Unsplash
Melissa Di Rocco/Unsplash

According to biologists, the philtrum forms when three shapes come together to create an embryo’s face. In other words, it is a natural result of the first two to three months in the womb. It has no function otherwise.

The Wooden Strips That Divide Window Panes

Some windows are divided by a series of wooden strips. Usually, these strips separate the one window into four or six smaller rectangles. Interior designers might know the official term for these strips: “muntins”.

Windows appear next to a reading bench in a home.
Rob Wingate/Pinterest
Rob Wingate/Pinterest

Believe it or not, muntins were not made for looks. Old houses could not support the weight of a glass window, so muntins provided extra support. Today, though, they are installed for appearance. Try not to confuse this with “mullions”, a vertical bar that divides one window in half.

The Dents At The Bottom Of Bottles

The next time you get a glass bottle of soda or wine, flip it over (before opening it). You will find a circular dent at the bottom. This dent is called a “punt,” and it serves an important function.

Wine bottles are stacked and viewed from the bottom.
Rambaud/Alpaca/Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Rambaud/Alpaca/Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The punt, also called a “kick-up”, prevents the bottle from tipping over. It also makes it easier to clean and fill. In wine bottles specifically, it collects sediment and prevents it from pouring out. Soda cans have a similar design to keep them upright.

The Tiny, Pointless Handle On Bottles

Have you ever gotten a decorative bottle or container of maple syrup with a tiny, useless handle? These are called “skeumorphs”. Specifically, a skeumorph is a design that imitates a real, functional part (such as a handle) just for show.

A redditor holds onto a tiny handle on a jar of maple syrup.

Skeumorphs are not just handles. Electric candles, wood designs on cars, and imitation leather are all skeumorphs. They impersonate a certain part or material to make the object prettier. If you like retro design, you’ll see a lot of skeumorphs.

Handwriting That Is Illegible

If someone’s handwriting is too difficult to read, people call it “illegible.” But there is a specific term for hard-to-read handwriting–“griffonage.” Griffonage means crude or careless handwriting.

A notebook is filled with illegible handwriting and X's.
Dim Hou/Unsplash
Dim Hou/Unsplash

Whether people have terrible handwriting or are in a rush, the scribbles they produce are called griffonage. Despite this being common, the word is rarely used. Most people are content to say “illegible writing” or “scribbles”. If you work with someone who writes griffonage, good luck deciphering their notes.

Godly Sun Rays That Shine Through Clouds

When rays of sunlight pierce through the clouds, it looks spectacular. Some people call them “God’s rays,” “sunbeams,” or “sun rays,” but meteorologists call them “crepuscular rays.” These often form when the set is below the horizon.

Sun rays shine through clouds onto a beach where a man with a surf board walks.
Getty Images
Getty Images

Crepuscular rays occur when the sun shines into irregularly shaped clouds. The light creates an illusion that looks like heavenly rays. They are different from antisolar rays, which are rays that shine upward from the horizon. But these explanations don’t make sunbeams any less stunning.

The Symbols That Replace Profanity

In writing, many people censor profanity with a series of random punctuation symbols. This has a term; it’s called a “grawlix.” Initially, grawlixes only appeared in comic strips, but now you can find them all over the internet.

In this comic, a man swears (shown through symbols) and then puts a quarter in the
Rubaiat Habib/Pinterest
Rubaiat Habib/Pinterest

Mort Walker, the author of the comic Beetle Bailey, invented grawlixes. You can find them in comics as far back as the early 1900s, but Walker never wrote about the term until his 1980 book The Lexicon of Comicana.