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North Hills Monthly

Why are So Many Things Misnamed?

Oct 30, 2015 03:08PM ● By Charles Reichblum
Did you ever wonder why so many things are misnamed? For example, French fries did not originate in France. They originated in Belgium, but then the French began making them, and when French immigrants brought them to America, they began to be called French fries.

Russian dressing did not come from Russia. It was first made in America. And Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, doesn’t begin in October. It’s a two-week celebration that begins in September and only the final few days take place in October. Venetian blinds did not originate with the Venetians in Venice, Italy, either; they were invented by the Japanese. Maybe they should be called Japanese blinds.

The Battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolutionary War did not take place on Bunker Hill at all. It was fought on nearby Breed’s Hill in Boston because the commander of troops that day had orders to protect Bunker Hill, so he chose nearby Breed’s Hill.

The coins we called nickels originally were made of all nickel, but today they are made of 75 percent copper and only 25 percent nickel. Perhaps we should call them coppers instead of nickels.

A 10-gallon hat does not hold 10 gallons. It holds only about three-quarters of a gallon. The use of the word gallon here comes from the Spanish word galon, which is the name for the braid used to decorate the hats. It has nothing to do with liquid measure. Ten pieces of Spanish braids decorated the original 10-gallon hats.

The famous Pony Express never used ponies; they used full-sized horses. Catgut, used in musical instruments, doesn’t come from cats but from the intestines of sheep. The musical instrument called the English horn is not a horn, and it’s not English. It’s an oboe that was really developed in France.

Grapefruit is not a grape, and is not a member of the grape family. The reason that it’s called grapefruit is because it grows in bunches, like grapes do. And corned beef has nothing to do with corn; it got its name from an old meaning of the word corned, which at the time meant ‘seasoned.’

And this is just a start. Can you think of any items that are misnamed? Visit us on Facebook and let us know.