The Strange World of Seances

You may have only seen seances in movies, but people host them in real life too. It was a big thing in the U.S. and Europe from the nineteenth century into the early twentieth.

Where Does the Term “Cliffhanger” Come From?

Nothing inspires readers, viewers, or listeners to tune into the next installment of a thrilling adventure quite like a good, old-fashioned cliffhanger does—but have you ever wondered exactly where the term “cliffhanger” comes from in the first place? If you have, there’s good news and bad news: The bad news is that the saying’s history is a little hazy—but the good news is that there absolutely are cliffs involved.

Did You Know?

The term “lieutenant” used widely in the military, police departments, and political office, is French in origin and translates roughly to “holding in position.” A lieutenant maintains a superior officer’s position during his or her absence.

The Surprising Origins of 14 Nicknames

How old were you when you first learned that “Peggy” is, somewhat inexplicably, a nickname for “Margaret?” If your answer is something like, “Today. I was today years old,” don’t worry; you’re in good company. It turns out there actually is a reason “Margaret” is sometimes shortened to “Peggy,” by the way—and what’s more, it’s far from the only nickname with a surprising origin story out there.
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