50 Totally Useless Facts That Are Too Entertaining for Words
Take cover! Because we're about to drop some serious knowledge on you.
The world of fun facts is fascinating and substantial. There are random facts, there are animal facts, there are wonderful facts, and there are historical facts. And then, perhaps least importantly, there are useless facts—or facts that you will absolutely, never, ever need to know. From how long it takes your fingernails to grow to which state capital is the only one without a McDonald’s, these are the useless facts you’ll love to learn and then possibly never use.
The King of Hearts is the only king in a deck of cards without a mustache
There are four kings in every deck of cards. And while they all look similar, the king of hearts is the only royal fellow who doesn’t have a mustache. According to The Guardian, the “suicide king” (so-called because he looks like he’s stabbing himself in the head with a sword), wasn’t always bare-faced. He mistakenly lost his facial hair in a redesign.
Dreamt is the only word in the English language that ends with “mt”
The English language is full of idiosyncrasies, and the word dreamt is one of them. According to Oxford Dictionaries, “dreamt” (and its variations, such as “undreamt”) is the only word in the English language that ends with the letters “mt.”
The opposite sides of a dice cube will always add up to seven
While the lowest number on a dice is one and the highest is six, those numbers—and the ones in between—will always equal seven when added to the number on the opposite side of the dice. If you take a look, you’ll see that one and six are on opposite sides of the cube (1+6=7), as are two and five (2+5=7), and three and four (3+4=7).
Those metal studs on your jeans have a name and a purpose
The next time you’re wearing a pair of jeans, take a look at the pockets. Do you see those little metal studs at the corners? They’re not just there to add some extra pizzazz to your pants, they actually have a purpose. Rivets, as they’re called by Levi Strauss, are placed on certain spots to add extra support where the denim is more likely to wear out and rip.
No number from 1 to 999 uses the letter “a” in its word form
Unless you live in the United Kingdom where it’s proper to write 101 as “one hundred and one,” there is no number from 1 to 999 that includes the letter “a” in its word form. One, two, three, four, five, six … twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty … you can keep going, but you won’t find the first letter in the alphabet until you hit “one thousand.”
The average adult spends more time on the toilet than they do exercising
We’re not all as physically active as we should be, and it can be hard to fit workouts into our daily routine. On the other hand, when it comes to relieving ourselves (yes, we mean going to the bathroom), we can’t really deny our regular need to do our business. That’s why, according to one study by British non-profit UKActive, adults spend an average of three hours and nine minutes on the toilet each week, but only spend around one hour and 30 minutes being physically active during that same time span. Perhaps it’s time to figure out how to exercise while using the restroom.
Cats can’t taste sweet things because of a genetic defect
Cats can jump surprisingly high, slip through the tightest spaces, and seemingly have nine lives. But there’s one thing they can’t do and that is taste sweet things. According to Scientific American, unlike other mammals, felines can’t taste sweetness due to the fact that they “lack 247 base pairs of the amino acids that make up the DNA of the Tas1r2 gene. As a result, it does not code for the proper protein … and it does not permit cats to taste sweets.” While that may sound a little complicated, you don’t really need to understand the specifics to get that Fluffy won’t enjoy sugary desserts.
Tesseradecades, aftercataracts, and sweaterdresses are the longest words you can type using only your left hand
If, for one reason or another, you find yourself only able to use the left side of your computer’s keyboard, there are still plenty of words that you can type out. By using Q, W, E, R, T, A, S, D, F, G, Z, X, C, V, and B—the left-hand letters on a standard QWERTY keyboard—you can not only tap out whoppers like tesseradecades, aftercataracts, and sweaterdresses, you can also type great, vast, water, starter, cascades, retracts, affects, trees, caves, crests, waver, reverberate, sat, far, raced, faster, created, craters, graves, wasted, arrested, and (perhaps best of all) abracadabra. And if that’s not a writing prompt, we don’t know what is.
Your fingernails grow faster on your dominant hand
Unless you appreciate nail art, you probably don’t pay much attention to your nails unless it’s time to clip them. But if you’ve ever broken a nail way down near the base—or lost one completely—you’ll know they take quite a while to grow back. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology says that a fingernail takes around six months to grow from base to tip and toenails can take up to a year. Fingernails also grow faster on your dominant hand as well as on your bigger fingers. Nails also grow faster during the daytime as well as during the summer months.
A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time—but you’ll absolutely never use it
If you’ve ever said you’ll “just be a jiffy,” you probably know it’s an expression used to indicate a short amount of time. However, according to Dictionary.com, a “jiffy” is an actual unit of time. Used as early as 1780 as an informal term, sometime during the late 18th or early 19th centuries, scientist Gilbert Newton Lewis defined a jiffy as the amount of time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum, which is about 33.4 picoseconds or one trillionth of a second. That’s a short (and pretty much useless) amount of time indeed!
Montpelier, Vermont, is the only U.S. capital without a McDonald’s
If you’ve recently picked up a Quarter Pounder or Chicken McNuggets, then you’re among the 69+ million customers that McDonald’s serves every day. However, it’s not as easy for residents of Montpelier, Vermont, to get a Big Mac. That’s because it’s the only U.S. state capital that doesn’t have a McDonald’s. As the smallest state capital in terms of population (approximately 7,500), the city doesn’t have a Burger King, either. Sorry, Whopper lovers! Luckily, to enjoy a meal from either fast-food chain, those from Montpelier can simply head over to the neighboring city of Barre.
People used to answer the phone by saying “Ahoy!” instead of “Hello”
When the public started using the phone back in the 1800s, inventor Alexander Graham Bell thought they should answer a call with “ahoy.” That’s likely why the incredibly elderly Mr. Burns on The Simpsons says “Ahoy-hoy” when he picks up the phone. However, Bell’s rival, Thomas Edison, wanted users to answer the phone with “Hello.” And, according to The New York Times, by 1880, ‘Hello’ had won out.
Pound cake got its name from its original recipe
Desserts don’t have to be super complicated to be delicious. Take pound cake for example. Not only is it made from some pretty common ingredients—butter, eggs, sugar, and flour—according to What’s Cooking America, its name comes from the fact that the original recipe called for a pound of each item. While that may seem like a lot, the simple recipe (which dates back to the 1700s!) was easy to remember during a time when not everyone could read.
The largest bill to go into circulation in the U.S. was a $10,000 note
While your wallet may be filled with $5, $10, $20, $50, or even $100 bills, the government once decided that it might be handy to have some higher denominations available. That’s why, at one point, there were banknotes of $500, $1,000, and even $5,000 value.
But the largest note ever issued for public circulation was the $10,000 bill, which featured a portrait of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury from 1861 to 1864. The bills were first printed in 1945, and on July 14, 1969, the Federal Reserve and the Department of the Treasury announced that the larger bills would be discontinued due to lack of use (honestly, we can’t image why).
Messages from your brain travel along your nerves at up to 200 miles per hour
The human body is capable of amazing things. For instance, when your brain sends messages via your nerves, the signals travel along billions of nerve cells (neurons), synapses, and neurotransmitters in a process that can be as speedy as 200 miles an hour.
Apple seeds contain cyanide
As they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Unless you eat too many apple seeds, that is. The tiny black seeds found in the fruit contain a plant compound called amygdalin which turns into hydrogen cyanide if the seeds are chewed or digested, according to Medical News Today. Cyanide is poisonous (even deadly in high doses) which is why you should definitely spit those seeds out. Do the same for apricot, peach, and cherry seeds, which also contain the compound.
A Greek-Canadian man invented the “Hawaiian” pizza
There will always be fierce debates over whether or not pineapple has any place on a pizza, but there’s no question about where the Hawaiian pizza originally came from: Chatham, Ontario, Canada! Restaurant owner Sam Panopoulos was born in Greece but moved to Canada when he was 20 years old. And in 1962, the entrepreneur decided to put pineapple on pizza.
According to Time, Panopoulos, who passed away in 2017, once told the BBC, “We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste. We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.” The name apparently came from the brand of canned pineapple that was used when they invented the Hawaiian pizza.
Alaska is the only state whose name is on one row on a keyboard
With “a” and “s” being beside each other on the middle row of the keyboard and “k” and “l” over on the other side of the same row, Alaska is the only state name that you can type out using a single row. And for more on the states, check out The Most Boring Town in Every State.
A cubic inch of human bone can bear the weight of five standard pickup trucks
Human bodies can sometimes feel vulnerable and fragile. But if you want to feel like a superhero, keep in mind that human bone is actually stronger than both steel and concrete. “Bone is extraordinarily strong—ounce for ounce, bone is stronger than steel, since a bar of steel of comparable size would weigh four or five times as much,” biomedical engineer Cindy Bir at Wayne State University told Live Science. “A cubic inch of bone can in principle bear a load of 19,000 lbs. (8,626 kg) or more—roughly the weight of five standard pickup trucks—making it about four times as strong as concrete.”
A frigate bird can sleep while it flies
Birds can do some pretty amazing things. For example, frigate birds (Fregata minor) can sleep while flying thanks to the fact that they can snooze while using only one hemisphere of the brain at a time, according to the National Audobon Society.
You are 13.8 percent more likely to die on your birthday
Uh, happy birthday? According to one study, published in the journal Annals of Epidemiology, humans are 13.8 percent more likely to pass away on their birthday than on other days. That’s according to Swiss mortality statistics from 1969 to 2008. We’ve got to say, this study is (morbidly) interesting!
There’s a city called “Rome” on every continent except Antarctica—but only one “Earth”
If you’re trying to locate Rome on a map, you’d probably head right to the boot-shaped country of Italy. But Europe isn’t the only place that decided to use that particular name, or rather, the Italian version, “Roma.” In fact, there’s a Rome on every continent except Antarctica. And while there are plenty of places named after various planets—such as Mars, Pennsylvania, and Jupiter, California— there’s only one city that shares a name with our planet: Earth, Texas. For more Texas facts, check out the 25 Crazy Facts About Texas.
Dr. Seuss invented the word “nerd”
Dr. Seuss is responsible for coming up with some wild and wacky words. But we can also thank the children’s book author for one that made its way into common use: nerd. American Heritage Dictionary explains that “nerd” first appeared in Seuss’ 1950 book If I Ran the Zoo which reads, “And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo And Bring Back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo A Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!”
Merriam-Webster says that a year later, Newsweek included the word “nerd” in an article about the latest slang, writing, “In Detroit, someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now, regrettably, a nerd, or in less severe cases, a scurve.”
Most pandas in the world are on loan from China
If you’re lucky, you may be able to see a panda or two at a nearby zoo, but that cute creature is most likely on loan from China. In fact, the majority of pandas around the world either come from China or, if they’re born somewhere else, have to be sent to a Chinese breeding program before they turn four in order to expand the gene pool of the species.
You produce about six pounds of stool per week
Some of us eat more than others, but according to Kim Barrett, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, who spoke to Live Science about feces-related facts, on average, men and women both produce around a pound of poop every day. Obviously, that equals around six or seven pounds per week.
Pope John Paul II was an honorary Harlem Globetrotter
When you think of the Pope, you probably envision a holy man in robes, not an athlete. But Pope John Paul II was, in fact, a member of one of the most famous basketball teams in the world. In 2000, the Harlem Globetrotters made the head of the Catholic church an honorary member of their squad. The CBC reported that the team’s owner and chairman, Mannie Jackson, and five players met with the Pope during a visit to the Vatican City where the Pontiff was given an autographed basketball and his very own jersey.
Queen Elizabeth II is a trained mechanic
During World War II, then 18-year-old Princess Elizabeth was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, making her the only female member of the British royal family to have served in the armed forces and the only living head of state to serve in the Second World War. Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, as she was called during her service, trained as a mechanic and military truck driver. This is even more interesting when you find out that she’s also the only person in Britain who doesn’t need a driver’s license to get behind the wheel.
Basenji dogs are the only breed that doesn’t bark
Some dogs smaller dogs have high-pitched yappy barks while larger dogs tend to have deep howls and low growls. But the Basenji is a breed of dog that doesn’t bark at all—although that doesn’t mean they’re silent. Instead, the Basenji lets out a sound that is more like a warbling yodel.
Many oranges are actually green
While we assume that all oranges are orange in color because they’re called, well, oranges, the fruit is often green when ripe thanks to plenty of chlorophyll. In South America and tropical countries, oranges are green year round, but in the U.S. where it’s colder, oranges lose their chlorophyll and take on the color that matches their name. And because North American shoppers are used to oranges that are actually orange, imported fruit is either exposed to ethylene gas or shocked with cold water in order to remove the chlorophyll.
Jupiter is bigger than every other planet combined
Maybe you already knew that Jupiter was the biggest planet of them all. But did you know how big? The planet, named after the king of gods in Roman mythology, could fit every other planet in our solar system inside of it—twice!
Your body contains about 100,000 miles of blood cells
Blood cells are incredibly small, measuring around five micrometers (a human hair is about 17 micrometers if you need a reference). However, because we have so many blood cells in our body, The Franklin Institute explains that if you laid them out in a single row, a child’s blood cells would stretch more than 60,000 miles while an adult’s blood cells would be around 100,000 miles long.
The first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson to himself in 1971
Ray Tomlinson is often credited with inventing email (although that claim has been disputed) and, according to Business Insider, he sent the first email message to himself while trying out the revolutionary form of online communication in 1971. “The test messages were entirely forgettable,” he said. “Most likely the first message was QWERTYIOP or something similar.”
The lint in the bottom of your pocket has a name
At some point in time, for whatever reason, someone decided to give a name to the lint that collects in the bottom of your pockets. So the next time you have gunk in your clothes, you can correctly call it “gnurr.”
The most common password is “123456”
Hopefully, the passwords you choose are unexpected and cryptic, unlike the vast majority of people who still use incredibly common ones. According to an analysis by SplashData, the most popular passwords of 2018 was “123456.” That was followed by “password”, “123456789”, “12345678”, “12345678”, “12345,” “111111,” “1234567,” and then, delightfully, “sunshine,” and “iloveyou.”
The little dot above a lowercase “i” and “j” has a name
Dictionary.com explains that while many other languages include written accents throughout the alphabet, English only has two letters that include a “diacritic dot.” The small mark you make over a lowercase “i” and a lowercase “j” is called a “tittle,” which could be a combination of the words “tiny” and “little” and does indeed aptly describe the itty-bitty dot.
The average person has four to six dreams a night
If you’re over 10 years old, The National Sleep Foundation tells us that you likely have around four to six dreams every single night. And according to one study published by the Association for the Study of Dreams the most common dreams include being chased or pursued, falling, school and studying, and sexual experiences.
The chicken and the ostrich are the closest living relatives to the Tyrannosaurus Rex
While we used to think that dinosaurs were giant lizard-like creatures that roamed the Earth, it’s now widely accepted that dinosaurs have more in common with present-day birds than they do with oversized reptiles. Research published in the journal Science confirmed that the Tyrannosaurus Rex shared more of its genetic makeup with ostriches and chickens than with reptiles like alligators and crocodiles.
There’s a trademark on the world’s darkest shade of black
Artist Anish Kapoor won the exclusive rights to use the shade deemed Vantablack, the “blackest black,” meaning no other artist could use it. This didn’t sit well with other creative-types, which is why Stuart Semple created the “Pinkest Pink” which he made available for purchase to anyone except Kapoor.
He even included a message to potential buyers, writing, “By adding this product to your cart you confirm that you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information, and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.” If you’d like, you can still read it on Amazon.
The average American spends about 2.5 days a year looking for lost items
In April 2017, Pixie commissioned the nation’s largest independent lost and found survey and discovered that Americans spend around 2.5 days each year in total looking for their lost things. The most commonly misplaced items include remotes, phones, keys, and glasses. Luckily, the survey also found that 29 percent of people who have lost their wallet or purse have had returned to them.
Sweat doesn’t smell bad
Yes, you might stink when you’re sweaty, but it’s not the sweat that smells bad. Medical News Today explains that body odor—also known as B.O., bromhidrosis osmidrosis, or ozochrotia—is actually caused by bacteria breaking down the protein in sweat and turning it into certain (unpleasant) acids. Unfortunately, this is one of those useless facts since there’s nothing you can do about it—except shower, of course.
A group of hippos is called a “bloat”
If you ever see a group of hippos, you can inform everyone around you that you’re looking at a “bloat.” The BBC laid out the story behind the term, explaining that thanks to The Book of St Albans (also known as The Book of Hawking, Hunting and Blasing of Arms) which was written by Juliana Berners, a 15th-Century English Benedictine prioress, we have plenty of the terms still used to describe groups of animals including a “swarm of bees” and a “gaggle of geese.”
Dolphins give each other names
Oh, you thought your name was unique? You might share it with a dolphin. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, bottlenose dolphins each have their own special whistles.
“Bottlenose dolphins develop their own unique identity signal, the signature whistle,” the researchers write. “This whistle encodes individual identity independently of voice features. The copying of signature whistles may therefore allow animals to label or address one another.
You would likely “mutate” in space without a spacesuit
We’ve all seen movies where people are sucked (or blown?) into space before meeting their doom in various nasty ways. However, the truth is probably much more intense. According to IFL Science, if you found yourself in outer space without a spacesuit “you’d swell up, burn, mutate, pass out, and your lungs might explode.” Yikes!
While each aspect sounds rather horrible, if you’re curious about the mutation part, the UV and other high energy photons (X-rays and gamma radiation) would apparently “damage your DNA, leading to mutations that would likely cause cancer (if you survived),” which you surely wouldn’t.
Antarctica is largest unclaimed territory on Earth
The continent is “governed internationally” through the Antarctic Treaty System, which includes Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom, according to antarctica.gov. However, the land can only be used for peaceful purposes. That, and a whole lot of science.
Punctuation wasn’t always a part of writing
It would be impossible to properly read without periods, commas, exclamation points, and question marks. But it turns out that punctuation wasn’t always a part of writing. According to the BBC, a librarian named Aristophanes from the Egyptian city of Alexandria in the 3rd Century BC attempted to introduce a form of punctuation into a system that not only didn’t use it but also didn’t bother to use capital letters or include spaces between words. While Aristophanes’ version of punctuation didn’t stick around, Christian writers in the 6th century began to punctuate their text, and eventually, we ended up with the punctuation we use today.
More Monopoly money is printed each year than real U.S. currency
If you’re looking to get rich, you can try to get your hands on some of the $974 million the U.S. government prints annually in order to replace old money. However, if you really want to rake in the bills, start collecting Monopoly money. According to USA Today, Parker Brothers, the company behind the popular financially-themed family board game, prints a whopping $30 billion worth of its fake currency each year.
The average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day
The United States Environmental Protection Agency informs us that in 2015, Americans produced an average of 4.48 pounds of trash per person. And while that may seem like a lot, it was actually one of the lowest estimates since 1990. Paper and paperboard products were the biggest culprits, while yard trimmings, plastic products, and consumer electronics also made up the bulk of trash.
If you plug your nose, you can’t tell the difference between an apple, a potato, and an onion
If you’ve ever been told to pinch your nose while taking medicine so that you don’t have to suffer through the awful taste, you might want to follow that advice. Apparently, our sense of smell is responsible for interpreting around 80 percent of what we taste. That means that without being able to smell apples, potatoes, and onions, they’re indistinguishable. If you want to watch a few people try, check out this video. Or just trust us—it works!
Sleeping through summer is called “estivation”
You surely know that when bears and other animals sleep through the colder winter weather it’s called “hibernation.” But did you know that there’s a name for sleeping through the summer? If you were to snooze the sun-soaked months away, then you would be indulging in “estivation.”
Snails, tortoises, salamanders, and crocodiles all estivate, as do the Malagasy fat-tailed dwarf lemur and East African hedgehogs.
According to the Bible, the chicken came before the egg
If you pick up a Bible and flip to Genesis 1:20–22, you’ll find the following: “20 Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.’ 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’”
Therefore, according to Moses, who is credited with writing Genesis, God made birds first and the egg would have come afterward when those birds were “fruitful” and multiplied.
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