Today I Learned…

…where the term “tip” comes from.  It is /not/, as my coworker Livy insisted, an acronym for “to insure promptness.”  This is probably a backronym of some kind (and incorrect, as it does not use the grammatically correct “ensure”).  According to Wikipedia, the word comes from the 16th century German verb tip, which meant “to give, hand, or pass” and “to tap.”

Also interesting is that the current German word for a tip is the unrelated word Trinkgeld, which literally translates to “drink money.”  That’s exactly what many of us are using it for.

For more info, and information on tipping customs around the world, check out the Wikipedia article.


Today I Learned…

…that the name “Idaho” is completely made up.  One-hundred percent fake.

In the early 1860s, lobbyist George M. Willing suggested that Congress name their potential new Rocky Mountain territory “Idaho.”  He claimed this came from a Shoshone word meaning “gem of the mountain” or “the sun comes from the mountains.”  He later claimed to have made the name up — Congress didn’t officially accept the name, but it stuck amongst the locals.

Today I Learned…

…why you can’t have any other kinds of nog besides egg.

When cartons are printed “Egg Nog,” it’s a bit of a misnomer.  More accurately, the popular holiday beverage should be known as “Eggnog”– one word.  From Wikipedia:

The origins, etymology, and even the ingredients used to make the original eggnog drink are debated. Eggnog, or a very similar drink, may have originated in East Anglia, England, though it may also have been developed from posset (a medieval European beverage made with hot milk). An article by Nanna Rögnvaldsdóttir, an Icelandic food expert, states that the drink adopted the nog part of its name from the word noggin, a Middle English phrase used to describe a small, wooden, carved mug used to serve alcohol. Another name for this British drink was Egg Flip. Yet another story is that the term derived from the name egg-and-grog, a common Colonial term used to describe rum. Eventually the term was shortened to egg’n’grog, then eggnog.

Therefore, there is no such class of beverage as the “nog.”  Something like soy nog — which is exactly what it sounds like — is in fact a bit of a retronym.

Today I Learned…

…where the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” comes from.  It commonly refers to the Jonestown tragedy (which I also just learned about recently), where cult leader Jim Jones convinced almost a thousand people to commit mass suicide by drinking Kool-Aid (or Flavor-Aid, or something like that) that had been laced with cyanide.

Makes sense, huh?  It also lends a much more sinister connotation to that particular idiom, which I always thought was supposed to be silly — something along the lines of being invited into a group with a ritual sharing of tropical-flavored sugar water.

Today I Learned…

…where the term “soap opera” comes from.  From Wikipedia:

The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers such as Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Lever Brothers as the show’s sponsors. These early radio serials were broadcast in weekday daytime slots when mostly housewives would be available to listen; thus the shows were aimed at and consumed by a predominantly female audience.

Today I Learned…

…the origin of one of my favorite phrases, “balls to the wall.”  Apparently, it originated as WWII fighter pilot slang, referring to the fact that the throttle levers were topped by small balls.  To go “balls to the wall,” then, involved pushing the throttle all the way up against the instrument panel, and accelerating up to top speed.

Further Reading… (including a picture of General George Patton taking a leak into the Rhine river)