Cheap, reliable, and strong, the rubber band is one of the world’s most ubiquitous products. It holds papers together, prevents long hair from falling in a face, acts as a reminder around a wrist, is a playful weapon in a pinch, and provides a way to easily castrating baby male livestock… While rubber itself has been around for centuries, rubber bands were only officially patented less than two centuries ago. Here now is a brief history of the humble, yet incredibly useful, rubber band.
The phrase “cut to the chase” doesn’t mean what you think it means.
The common descriptor, like many other popular sayings, is one of many anachronisms that creep into everyday usage. For some reason, antiquated phrases have a way of sticking around.
“Successful terms tend to be ones that we don’t notice,” says Dave Wilton, a linguist and author of Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends, in an interview with Mashable. He also runs the etymology site Word Origins.
Have you ever stopped and wondered why you say pitch black? What does “pitch” actually even refer to? Questioning that can take you on a deeper dive in etymology.
You don’t speak Turkish. You don’t speak Finnish. You don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese. None of these languages is remotely related to English. In fact, none of these languages are even in the same language family. Yet you can recognize, within the two quick syllables of kah-vay, ka-vee, and ka-fay, the word you know as coffee.
For decades, corporations have turned to creative people for their naming needs, with varying results. In 1955, a Ford Motor marketing executive recruited the modernist poet Marianne Moore to name the company’s new car. The marketing department had already created a list of 300 candidates, all of which, the executive confessed, were “characterized by an embarrassing pedestrianism.” Could the poet help? In a series of letters, Moore proposed dozens of notably nonpedestrian names — Intelligent Whale, Pastelogram, Mongoose Civique, Utopian Turtletop, Varsity Stroke — but the marketing team rejected them all, instead naming the new car (in one of the great disasters, naming and otherwise, in corporate history) after Henry Ford’s son, Edsel.
Today roughly 500,000 businesses open each month in the United States, and every one needs a name.
Who was your first kiss? Not the actual, physical kiss — that is really none of my business — but a witnessed meeting of two mouths on-screen? Was it the smooching pooches in “The Lady and the Tramp,” their lips serendipitously joined by a strand of spaghetti? Jack and Rose in the boiler room of the Titanic? Jack and Ennis in “Brokeback Mountain”? Cher and Nicolas Cage in “Moonstruck”? Or was it an older, more canonical osculation, from the era when a kiss was as far as an on-screen pair were allowed to go, with or without the benefit of clergy? Bogey and Bergman in “Casablanca”? Bergman and Cary Grant in “Notorious”? Grant and Eva Marie Saint or Grace Kelly or Katharine Hepburn?