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What is a white elephant?

January 21, 2017 | Author: | Posted in General Knowledge

So-called white elephants are merely albinistic Indian elephants in which much of the usual dark pigment is absent from the skin, giving it a pale gray or yellowish color. Figuratively white elephant means a dignity or possession that is costly to maintain and that yields no profit. A person having such property is said to …

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Who were the tailors of Tooley Street?

January 20, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Geography, History

While George Canning (1770-1827) was Prime Minister of England, several tailors met in a house on Tooley Street, London, for the purpose of redressing popular grievances. They drew up a petition to the House of Commons that began with the words, “We, the people of England.” There is a difference of opinion regarding the number …

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Why is the guinea pig so called?

January 19, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Zoology

The name of the guinea pig, which is a native of South America, is one of the unsolved mysteries of etymology. Several plausible theories have been advanced to account for the name. The most popular theory holds that guinea here is merely a corruption of Guiana, which arose from the fact that early writers ‘confused …

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Why is there more lightning in summer?

January 18, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Weather

Electrical storms are generated by sudden and decided changes in atmospheric temperature. The upper atmosphere is always cold and such changes are much less frequent in the winter time, when the temperature near the earth is also low. Hence thunder and lightning occur more often in summer than in winter.

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Will the milk of all mammals produce butter?

January 17, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Zoology

The milk of all mammals, including the human species, contains a fatty constituent similar to the butter in cow’s milk, and, to quote the United States Bureau of Dairy Industry, “there is no reason to believe that butter could not be made from the milk of any mammal,” although there might be difficulty in obtaining …

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How did “passing the buck” originate?

January 16, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Poker

This expression, which means shifting responsibility, originated in the cardroom. In various card games a counter or marker is placed on the table before one of the players to remind him of his turn to deal. This marker, which is to prevent mistakes as to the position of the deal, is called the buck and …

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When did the round “s” supplant the long “s”?

January 15, 2017 | Author: | Posted in Literature

The modern form of the letter s began to be used in print to the exclusion of the old f form or long s about the time of the American Revolution. Before that time it was customary for printers to use both forms of the letter. The long or cursive s was used any place …

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Who was the Laughing Murderer of Verdun?

January 14, 2017 | Author: | Posted in History

Frederick William, Crown Prince of Germany from the time of his birth in 1882 until the downfall of the Hohenzollerns in 1918, was called the “Laughing Murderer of Verdun” by his enemies during the First World War. He commanded the forces before Verdun and the name referred to the terrific losses his army sustained in …

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How did “gunny sack” originate?

January 13, 2017 | Author: | Posted in History

Gunny in gunny sack is an Anglicized form of Hindu and Sanskrit Boni, meaning sack or bag. Because bags for gross commodities were made on a large scale in Bengal from a strong, coarse, heavy sacking, the material itself came to be called gunny and the bags gunny sacks. The original gunny fabric was woven …

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How did “son of a gun” originate?

January 12, 2017 | Author: | Posted in History

This expression is used daily in conversation by thousands of persons who would never think of using it if they even so much as suspected its unsavory origin. It formerly expressed the utmost contempt for the person to whom it was applied. William Pulleyn, in his Etymological Compendium published in 1828, probably gave the correct …

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