Have you ever played the game Balderdash? It’s that hilarious board-slash-card game where players are given a ridiculous-sounding, yet totally real, word, and then have to guess what it means while making up a false meaning to fool their fellow players.
Many of these wild words come from objects we didn’t even know had actual names — like that bit of plastic on the end of your shoelace. Here are twenty real objects with names you can add to your secret vocabulary. You never know when you’ll need to find the right words!
1. Zarf: If you’ve ever ordered a hot coffee to go from your favorite coffeeshop, you’re familiar with a zarf — the cardboard sleeve for take-out cups that protects your hand from scalding.
Robert Kamau/GC Images
2. Keeper: You don’t always notice a keeper, but you notice when it breaks. It’s that loop on a belt, next to the buckle, that keeps the strap secured and not flapping in the breeze.
3. Muntin: A muntin is a strip or grid of metal, wood, or plastic that separates window panes and holds them in place. In the modern era, muntins are often faux, and are inserted over a single-pane window to give it a more historic look.
4. Barm: Hey, don’t barm in my drink! If you pull a pint of beer without slanting the glass, you’ll end up with a lot of barm, which is that layer of foam on top of alcohol. It’s also referred to as the head.
5. Punt: A manufacturing feature left over from the old glassblowing days, a punt is that little indent in bottom of wine bottles where the glassblowing tube was attached to the bottle itself. Sommeliers often use it to rest their thumb in while they pour.
Times of Malta
6. Griffonage: A doctor’s note or prescription can often appear to be scribbled in griffonage, which is the dictionary term for handwriting that’s a “crude or illegible scrawl.” However, doctors actually write in medical shorthand, which is why we can’t read it, but the pharmacist can.
7. Aglet: This word is already in the Balderdash game, but it’s worth knowing anyway. Aglets are those plastic tubes at the ends of a shoelace. They keep the lace from fraying and make it easier to thread through the shoe’s eyelets.
2healthbars / Reddit
8. Soufflé cups: They’re what we might call condiment cups — usually filled with ketchup or malt vinegar in a Five Guys’ takeout bag, or chili oil and hoisin sauce at a dim sum restaurant.
9. Caruncle: You rub it when you’re tired, or when your allergies are bothering you. The caruncle is the little triangle of flesh at the inner corner of your eye.
Los Angeles Times
10. Tittle: Go ahead, get the dirty jokes out of your system. Then we can talk about the tittle, or the other name for a dot above lowercase i’s and j’s.
11. Pizza saver: Strangely, these seem to have disappeared recently. They’re the little plastic tables that sit in the middle of a take-out pizza, keeping the box lid from crushing down and messing up that tasty, tasty pie.
12. Ferrule: Sometimes this word is used to describe a sleeve or cap that keeps a pole or handle from splitting apart, but in this case, it refers to that metal barrel thing that holds the eraser on a pencil.
13. Glabella: It wrinkles when you’re confused, and Frida Kahlo famously grew hair on it, championing individuality in beauty. A glabella is the space on your forehead between your eyebrows.
14. Wamble: It always seems to strike super-loudly at the worst times, like in funerals, church, SATs, or that really important work meeting where you need to make a good impression on your angry boss. It’s a rumbling stomach.
15. Scroop: Scroop scroop, here comes the Belle of the ball. This word is an onomatopoeic name for the swooshing sound made by a fancy silk ball gown. Not something we hear often nowadays, but you can search “taffeta” online and get an idea.
16. Acnestis: It isn’t high up on your shoulders, and it isn’t down low in the middle of your back. The acnestis is that spot between your shoulder blades that’s hard to reach — and when you have an itch there, it’s a nightmare.
hhh / Physical Fitness Stack Exchange
17. Semordnilap: A semordnilap is “palindromes” spelled backwards, and refers to a word that, when reversed, becomes a different word with a different meaning. The word “desserts” is an example; when reversed, it becomes “stressed.”
18. Snood: Finally, we know the name for that bit of drapey flesh on top of a turkey’s nose. It’s so goofy-looking, you kind of just want to tickle it and say in a very high voice, “snoodly snoodly snoo.”
19. Apricity: You know the feeling when you’re outside on a chilly fall day, or freezing on the ski slopes, and the clouds suddenly part and give you some glorious sun warmth? That’s apricity.
mistersnowman_ / Reddit
20. Quincunx: Although Thomas Edison had a tattoo of it on his arm, this formal term for the 5-dot pattern on a standard 6-sided die is a bit hard to say, and maybe that’s why it never caught on.
mikelangren / Reddit
On the other side of the linguistical spectrum, many of the products we use every single day once had different names. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Etsy – MAKERWILD
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.