General Knowledge I

Q: Why do men’s clothes have buttons on the right  while women’s clothes have buttons on the left?

A: When  buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn  primarily by the rich. Since most people are right-handed, it is  easier to push buttons on the right through  holes on the left.  Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons  on the
maid’s right!  And that’s where women’s buttons have remained since.

Q: Why do ships  and aircraft use ‘mayday’ as their call for help?

A: This comes from the French word m’aidez  -meaning ‘help me’ — and is pronounced, approximately,  ‘mayday.’

Q: Why are zero scores  in tennis called ‘love’?

A: In France , where  tennis became popular, round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg  and was called ‘l’oeuf,’ which is French for ‘egg.’ When tennis was  introduced in the US , Americans (mis)pronounced it  ‘love.’

Q. Why do X’s at the end  of a letter signify kisses?

A: In the Middle Ages, when  many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed  using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations  specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually  became synonymous.

Q: Why is  shifting responsibility to someone else called ‘passing the  buck’?

A: In card games, it was once customary to pass  an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would ‘pass the buck’ to the next  player.

Q: Why do people clink  their glasses before drinking a toast?

A: It used to be  common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a  poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became  customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass  of  the host.. Both men would drink it  simultaneously.
When a guest trusted his host, he would only touch  or clink the host’s glass with his own.

Q: Why are people in the public eye said to be ‘in the  limelight’?

A: Invented in 1825,limelight was used in  lighthouses and theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a  brilliant light.
In the theatre,a  performer ‘in the  limelight’ was the centre of attention.

Q: Why  is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’?

A:  Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they  attain, with nine being the highest cloud If someone is said to  be on cloud nine, that person is floating  well above  worldly cares.

Q: In golf, where  did the term ‘Caddie’ come from?

A. When Mary Queen of  Scots went to France as a young girl, Louis, King of France , learned  that she loved the Scots game ‘golf.’ So he had the first course  outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment. To make sure she was properly chaperoned  (and guarded)  while she played,
Louis  hired cadets from a military school to accompany her. Mary liked this a  lot and when returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in the long  run), she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet  is pronounced  ‘ca-day’ and  the Scots changed it  into ‘caddie.

Q: Why are many coin banks  shaped like pigs?

A: Long ago, dishes and  cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay called ‘pygg’. When  people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as  ‘pygg banks.’ When an English potter misunderstood the  word, he made a container that resembled a pig. And it caught  on.

Q: Did you ever wonder why  dimes, quarters and half dollars have notches (milling), while pennies  and nickels do not?

A: The US Mint began putting notches  on the edges of coins containing gold and silver to discourage holders  from shaving off small quantities of the precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars are notched because they used to contain  silver. Pennies and  nickels aren’t notched because    the metals they  contain are not valuable enough to shave.

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