10 Random Facts

10 Random Facts


William Carstares (1649-1715) was the last man in Britain to be given the thumbscrew. As torture was illegal in England, he had to be taken to Edinburgh.


The whole of Shakespeare contains only about 20,000 different words – less than half the vocabulary of the average English speaker today.


“Trombone” is French for paperclip.


The word “gasoline” doesn’t come from “gas”. It comes from Cazeline – after John Cassell, founder of the publisher Cassell & Co who was the first to sell it commercially.


A snowflake that falls on a glacier in central Greenland can take 200,000 years to reach the sea.


For 48 years after tinned food was invented, people who wanted to eat it had to use a hammer and chisel. The can opener wasn’t invented until 1858.


At the outbreak of the Second World War, zookeepers killed all the poisonous insects and snakes in London Zoo, in case it was bombed and they escaped.


The boa constrictor is the only living animal whose common name is exactly the same as its scientific name.


Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it is explicitly illegal in Britain to use a machine gun to kill a hedgehog.


In ancient Greek the word “idiot” meant anyone who wasn’t a politician.




5 thoughts on “10 Random Facts

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    1. I have to confess that I have a little book that I looked these up in! I am fascinated by facts like these, and I just wanted to share some with you. I love the fact about the trombone – my son plays it, and my brother is a professional trombone player for the Welsh National Opera so you can imagine the teasing he will be getting about THAT!!


  1. “it is explicitly illegal in Britain to use a machine gun to kill a hedgehog.” Makes you wonder exactly what prompted this to get worked into the law!

    These were fascinating! If you have any more factoids like these I’d love to read them. 🙂


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