Common Items With Real Names That No One Ever Expected

Open a dictionary, flip to any given page, and you’re bound to find a few words you’ve never even heard of. Linguists and wordsmiths have established names for just about everything on the planet — and then some!

But while some of those strange words describe complicated molecular compounds or intense psychological theories, most are just everyday objects that most of us never thought had names. Get ready to show off your vocabulary to all your friends!

The tiny tubes attached to the ends of shoelaces are called aglets. But that’s not all. The little holes that shoelaces weave through actually have their own name too: eyelets.

Wikimedia Commons

You know that foam that collects on top of beer, wine, or basically any kind of alcohol? That’s barm. Thankfully it has more uses than just being annoying when you’re pouring a glass; it also makes delicious bread.

When there’s hair there, you might call it a “unibrow,” but that space in between your two eyebrows is actually called a glabella. Doesn’t sound great either way, honestly.

Cross your i’s and dot your t’s, it’s tittle time! Those little dots above lower case i’s and j’s aren’t just stylistic, they have their own name: tittles. How titillating!

That little cardboard sleeve that protects your hand from the heat billowing out of your latte even has a name. It’s a zarf! Zarfs are traditionally metal beverage holders, but the name applies to the cardboard variety, too.

What do Cher, Voltaire, and Moses all have in common? They all have mononyms! People who go by one name instead of multiple are mononymous.

Wikimedia Commons

A pack of dogs, a gaggle of geese, a pride of lions — most animals have fun names to describe a group of them, but crows might have the creepiest. A flock of crows is actually called a murder.

Flickr – Mr.TinDC

What the fork? It turns out the pointy parts of forks aren’t just called “prongs” or “spikes.” Their technical name is actually tines. You heard it here first, folks; it’s tine time!

It’s not called an eye-triangle or a little-corner-that-itches-sometimes, that small triangular region of skin next to your eye has a name: caruncle. Just tell someone you’ve got something in your caruncle and see how they respond.

Scroop! That’s the sound of a fancy dress swooshing around in the ballroom. But for something to scroop, it technically has to be made of a specific material: silk.

You know the feeling: snow on the ground, a chill in the air, when suddenly the clouds break and the sun offers some sweet relief from the cold. That warmth on a cold day is called apricity.

Ferrules are fasteners that keep any kind of pole from splitting. But most of us probably know them as the little metal thing on the end of pencils that keeps the eraser in place.

We’ve all heard of palindromes, but what do you get when you reverse that? Semordnilaps. These are words that, when flipped around backwards, become different words. For example, diaper and repaid, or desserts and stressed.

Wikimedia Commons

Did you know Thomas Edison had a tattoo? That’s right, the bad boy of electronics had a quincunx tattooed on his forearm. You probably know the symbol best as the “5” on a six-sided die.

Most wine bottles have an indentation on the bottom of the bottle. That little bump is actually called a punt. A holdover from when bottles were made by glassblowers, wine today keeps including them for some reason.

Snood: It’s not just a fun game to play on your computer at work, anymore. Snood is also the name for that weird fleshy part that hangs down from a turkey’s neck.

Short in front and long in back only means one thing to a hairstylist: a mullet. Turns out it means exactly the same thing to a landscaper, too. Well-groomed yard up front and an overgrown backyard is called a lawn mullet.

Apparently every part of the body has a technical name, no matter how obscure. The spot in between your two shoulder blades? That’s an acnestis — a spot you can’t reach to scratch.

If it’s lunchtime and you haven’t eaten yet, you’re familiar with the wamble. Wamble is the technical name for a rumbling stomach, but it can also mean a feeling of nausea. All around, not great.

Anyone who’s ever been left a note from a roommate knows this one: illegible handwriting. Those nonsensical scribbles actually have a technical name, though. Handwriting so bad you can’t read it is called griffonage.

Candy corn’s original name was “Chicken Feed.” Candy manufacturers wanted to market their products to a rural audience and thought the tie-in with the farming community might do the trick.

Wikimedia Commons

Cheerios, America’s favorite breakfast cereal. When Cheerios were introduced in 1941, they had another name: Cheerioats. Quaker Oats claimed it was a trademark violation, so General Mills cut off the last bit and “Cheerios” were born.

Wikimedia Commons

Toy Story‘s space hero Buzz Lightyear almost had a much less impressive name. In early drafts, he was called “Lunar Larry,” but producers changed it after deciding it was too “wacky.”

Target used to be “Dayton Dry Goods Company.” But in 1962, the company introduced a discount department chain called “Target,” which quickly became their most profitable franchise.

Google might be synonymous with “search engines” nowadays, but before it was “Google,” it was called “BackRub.” Weird name, right? The co-founders wanted to convey that the search engine scoured the “back links” of websites looking for information.

When Normal Bridwell was naming his “Big Red Dog,” he settled on the name “Tiny.” His wife hated that name and suggested instead he call the dog “Clifford” after her childhood imaginary friend.

Explorers first called pinecones “pine apples” because they looked like apples growing on pine trees. In turn, the explorers then named the fruit “pine apples” because of their resemblance to pinecones.

SpongeBob’s original name was actually “Spongeboy,” but it turned out that was off limits. A mop company held the copyright to the name and producers were forced to go with their second choice.

Wikimedia Commons

Maroon 5 actually started out as “Kara’s Flowers” for the band’s first seven years. Once they changed their name and direction, the success quickly followed from there.

The award for “laziest branding” goes to Eggo, who originally tried to name their waffles “Froffles,” as a combination of “frozen” and “waffles.” People kept calling them “Eggos” because of their egg-y taste, and eventually the name caught on.

The popular Q-Tips brand of cotton swabs were originally (and hilariously) called “Baby Gays.” That then became “Q-Tips Baby Gays” and then eventually “Q-Tips.” And what does the Q stand for? Quality.

Hannah Montana was almost named “Alexis Texas,” before producers did a little digging. It turned out the name was already in use in the industry — by an adult-film actress.

Pepsi was invented by Caleb Bradham, so naturally he originally named it “Brad’s Drink.” Somehow that didn’t catch on, so he tried to rebrand it as a health drink and called it “Pepsi” from “dyspepsia,” another word for indigestion.

The famous yellow-tagged electronics store was originally an audio specialty store named “Sound of Music.” The specifically titled store changed names once it expanded into other electronics in 1983.

John Steinback’s original title for Of Mice and Men was Something That Happened. Steinbeck wanted to suggest that the tragic events in the novella weren’t any one character’s fault.


Before 1811, no one referred to the powerful building as “The White House.” Instead it had many names, including the “President’s House,” “President’s Palace,” or “Presidential Mansion.” Sounds fancy.

Ever wonder why Snapchat’s logo is a ghost? The original app was launched under the name “Pictaboo.” The co-founders changed the name after less than a year before seeing the popular image-sharing app blow up.

Yahoo! might be an internet giant nowadays, but its original name was “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” Obviously that was a bit… wordy, so they renamed it once the company became successful.

Before The Spice Girls were zig-ah-zig-ah-ing, they were an unsuccessful group called “Touch.” The group also fired one of their members in the transition, Michelle Stephenson, and replaced her with Emma Bunton (Baby Spice).

Apron’s were originally called “naprons” back in the Middle Ages. After centuries of people mishearing “a napron” as “an apron,” the incorrect version started to stick. Now hundreds of years later, we’re still calling it that.

U.S. Department of Defense

Believe it or not, Bank of America’s original name was “Bank of Italy.” They were still based in America, but it was originally created for the working-class Italian community in San Francisco.

When cotton candy was first introduced in 1904, it was called “fairy floss.” By 1920 it was renamed “cotton candy,” but honestly fairy floss sounds pretty great to us.

Softball’s original name was “kitten ball,” named for the first team that played it in Minneapolis. Before it was ever known as “softball,” it had several other names too, like “diamond ball,” “mush ball,” and “pumpkin ball.”

Wikimedia Commons

Robert May, the man who created Rudolph, based the character on himself. He, too, felt like an outcast and wanted to create a character that people could relate to. The reindeer’s original name? Reginald.

Videocraft International

Hermione Granger is Harry Potter’s brainy cohort, but she was almost called something else entirely. According to original papers shared by J. K. Rowling, she wanted to name her “Hermione Puckle” at first.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Coldplay didn’t start out with that name; in fact, it took three times to get it right. First the band was called “Pectoralz,” then became “Starfish” for a short while, before eventually settling on “Coldplay.”

The world’s most famous cartoon rodent, Mickey Mouse, wasn’t always called that. Walt originally dubbed the rodent “Mortimer,” but his wife wasn’t a fan. Thus, Mickey was born.

Nike went through a few names before settling on the Greek goddess of victory. They were founded as Blue Ribbon Sports, but eventually considered “Dimension Six.” The name “Nike” came to one employee in a dream just days before filing the patent.

The Hawaiian Islands were given the delicious name the “Sandwich Islands” by European explorers. By the 1840s, locals had reverted to using the name of the largest island, Hawaii, to refer to the archipelago.

“Unadulterated Food Products.” Catchy, right? When Snapple was founded as a natural juice brand, they used that accurate name but eventually changed it once they started advertising their “snappy apple” flavors.

A single curly bang sweeping ever-so-gently across the forehead is called a “feat.” While the hairstyle might evoke imagery of a propeller hat-wearing kid carrying an oversized lollipop, maintaining a feat can also ooze toughness. Just ask Superman.

Anyone with an exceptional unibrow can boast to their friends about their fertile “glabella,” which is the soft spot of skin right between the eyebrows. With a name like that, that insignificant little piece of facial real estate can be the glabella the ball.

A paper cut to your purlicue may not sound like much, but it would actually be a nightmare-worthy experience. Why’s that? The “purlicue” is that tender area between your thumb and forefinger, and it hurts whenever you injure it!


There’s a little divot below your nose and above your upper lip that’s pretty much useless. It’s called a “philtrum”—or as scientists call it, an “infranasal depression”and just about every mammal has one, even your pooch!

Telling people you can see their “weenis” might land you on some raised eyebrows, but really, you’d just be telling them you can see their elbow skin! There’s no harm in a little weenis spotting! We all do it every day.

Courtney Langstaff / YouTube

Unless you bite your fingernails, you’re probably sporting 10 “lunules” right now. They’re the white, crescent-shaped tips on your fingernails, and it’s their resemblance to quarter-moons that earned them their name.

Nina / Flickr

When you drown your grief in a pint of ice cream or the grease of a cheeseburger, you might be getting a visit from “kummerspeck” afterwards. That’s the weight you gain from emotional overeating. Literally translated, it means “grief bacon.”

Some people call it the “meats sweats.” Others might say they’re suffering the adverse effects of a food baby. But if you want to be scientific, the word for the horrid feeling that follows overeating is “crapulence.”

kiril yankov / Flickr

“Being on pins and needles” has a better ring to it than “coming down with some fierce parathesia,” but either way, you’re saying the same thing. In other words, “parethesia” refers to the tingly or numb feeling you get when a limb falls asleep.

London UnFolded

After a long-awaited rainfall, when the air is still full of moisture, people all over the planet often revel in the damp, earthy smell that follows. That smell has a name: “petrichor.”

Vic Hanson / Summit Post

Do you know anyone with particularly heinous handwriting? A fourth-grader, maybe? A doctor? A fourth-grade doctor? Well, there’s a word for the illegible chicken scratch they scribble on the page: “griffonage.”

Liable to make even the most mature minds, uh, titter, the funny-sounding “tittle” refers to the dot above the lower-case “i” and “j.” Apparently, “little dot” didn’t titillate Middle English linguists!

Snowberry Design Co. / YouTube

Besides being an insult people desperately need sometimes, “dingbats” refer to the symbols substituted for swear words: #@$%#! Strangely, there are other words for this, too, like “grawlix” and “profanitype.”

Bored children stuck in classrooms have probably done some serious damage to the world’s supply of “ferrules,” aka the little piece of metal connecting an eraser to the end of a pencil. What kid hasn’t chomped on a few of these in their heyday?

At first glance, the word “nibbling” looks like the name folks in a nursing home would give a stray cat that eats kitchen leftovers, but it’s actually a gender-neutral term for nieces and nephews. If you’ve got an aunt or uncle, you’re their nibbling!

Harry Potter

Someone actually thought a little dollop of toothpaste spread across the bristles of a toothbrush deserved its own name, and thus “nurdle” was born. The word also describes a studious and socially awkward turtle. (Just kidding, it doesn’t. But it should.)

Wine drinkers likely spend a lot of time looking at the backside of a “punt” without even realizing it. That’s the word for the indentations at the base of the bottle, supposedly included for bottle integrity. It’s also a side effect of the glassblowing process.

If you’re particularly boring company at a party, here’s how to redeem yourself: tell everyone about the name for the little piece of plastic or metal at the end of your shoelace. It’s called an “aglet,” and it’s a great conversation starter.


Likely the sound an alien dog would make, a “zarf” is the cardboard cylinder you slip around a scalding hot coffee cup to take it to go. In this case, though, you should probably just keep calling it “that cardboard hand-protector thing.”

nirzar / Wikimedia

As if throwing someone through a window isn’t brutal enough, this very specific act carries its own brutal-sounding name, too: “defenestrate.” Fun fact: a defenestration station would be a place where people are systematically tossed through windows.

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