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Totally Useless Legal Facts


  • The words "insane" and "insanity" are not recognized medical terms but rather legal ones.

  • The Latin term "et al." is an abbreviation of "et alii" in its plurl form (meaning "and others") and "et alius" in its singular form (meaning "and another").

  • Unlike B.C. (before Christ) the abbreviation A.D. (Anno Domini, "Year of Our Lord," not After Death) is properly placed in front of the year, hence, you get A.D. 500 rather than 500 A.D.

  • The bench in the middle of a Westminster parliament is 2 1/2 sword lengths long. This is to keep both the government and the opposition at least a sword's length away from each other in case of a heated debate.

  • The word "freelance" comes from medieval times when a knight's lance was free for hire and not pledged to any one lord.

  • The New Hampshire state motto of "Live Free or Die" is stamped on their license plates by prisoners housed in their Concord prison facility. North Carolina's license plates bear the motto "First in Flight," although they don't report an increase in prison escapee attempts.

  • In Italy, it is illegal to craft coffins out of anything but wood or nutshells.

  • The dome in Thomas Jefferson's Monticello home concealed a billiards room at a time when billiards were illegal in Virginia.

  • British Parliament proceedings are meant to be held in private, even though they are televised. So, if a member desires to have a secret session, he or she points to the public gallery and calls out "I spy strangers!", whereupon the members vote that "strangers do withdraw."

  • The word "lethologica" describes the state of not being able to remember the word you want.

  • In the early 1900's, an elephant was actually tried, convicted, and hanged for murdering a politician's daughter during a circus parade.

  • When Patty Hearst was kidnapped, she was watching the TV show "The Magician," starring Bill Bixby.

  • The official name of the U.K. is the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." It is also the second longest county name being forty-eight letters.

  • The word "testify" originates from the Roman courts where men were known to swear on their testicles about the truth of the matter unlike our present day Bible system.

  • The most frequently visited foreign city by Americans is Tijuana, Mexico.

  • Pennsylvania was the first colony to legalize witchcraft.

  • The only seven letter word in the English language that contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters is "therein" -- the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, here, ere, therein, and herein.

  • Dueling is legal in Paraguay so long as both parties are registered blood donors.

  • Knights in full armor used to raise their visors to identify themselves in the presence of their king. This custom developed into the modern military salute. In every country, the salute is with the right hand. This is because, in medieval times, only right handed people could become knights as it was assumed that left handed people were descendants of the devil himself.

  • In the coastal provinces of Canada it is illegal to shoot a whale from a moving automobile.

  • The State of Rhode Island's official name is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

  • The word "sheriff" is derived from "shire reeve." In early England, each shire had a reeve who was the law for that shire. When the term was brought to the United States it was shortened to sheriff.

  • In Texas, it's illegal to put graffiti on someone else's cow.

  • Neck ties were first worn in Croatia, hence, the name cravats (pronounced "cro-vats").

  • Nearly fifty percent of all bank robberies take place on a Friday.

  • In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.

  • A "jiffy" is an actual measurement of time (1/100th of a second).

  • U.S. Interstates that run North and South are designated odd numbers which run sequentially from West to East, and Interstates which run East to West are designated even numbers which run sequentially South to North.

  • There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball.

  • Police dogs are trained to respond to commands in a foreign language, commonly German and Hungarian. This is to prevent a suspect from stopping or taking control of the dogs.

  • The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.

  • The words "Alma mater" mean bountiful mother.

  • Before jets were invented, "jet lag" was commonly known as "boat lag."

  • The raised reflectors in the middle of roadways are called Botts dots.

  • QANTAS, the Australian airline, started as "Queensland and Northern Territories Air Service."

  • If Disney's EPCOT center was a golf ball, a proportional golfer would be two miles tall.

  • Mr. Miranda of the famed case Miranda v. Arizona, which set up the Miranda warnings given to suspects (you have the right to remain silent, etc.), died several years later in a bar fight.

  • The state of New York was the first State to pass a law requiring medical tests for marriage license applicants (April 12, 1938).

  • "Ethernet" is a registered trademark of Xerox; and "Unix" is a registered trademark of AT&T.

  • One drop of pure nicotine will kill a human.

  • Ohio is listed as the 17th state admitted to the Union, however, it is actually the 47th. Congress apparently forgot to vote on the resolution for its admittance but rectified its mistake on August 7th, 1953.

  • There are more bald eagles in the province of British Columbia, Canada than in the entire United States.

  • The original Declaration of Independence was lost long ago. A copy is what remains on display in Washington, D.C.

  • The mantles found inside many camp side lanterns are radioactive, so much so that a single one would set off the alarm in a nuclear energy facility.

  • "Speak of the Devil" is short for "Speak of the Devil and he shall come." It was believed that if you spoke directly about the Devil it would attract his attention and he would come. It came to pass that when talking about someone and they enter the room people say, "Speak of the Devil."

  • The longest word in the English language is "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis." It's a lung disease. "Floccinaucinihilipilification," is the longest non-medical term in the English language. It means the act of estimating as worthless. Second place goes to the word "antidisestablishmentarianism," which means opposition to the disestablisment of a church or religious body.

  • The term "devil's advocate" comes from the Roman Catholic church. When deciding if someone should be sainted, a devil's advocate is appointed to speak against bestowing the sainthood upon the nominee.

  • The last NASCAR driver to serve jail time for running moonshine was Buddy Arrington.

  • Many Japanese golfers carry "hole-in-one insurance," because it is a tradition in Japan to share one's good luck by sending gifts to all your friends when you get an "ace." The price for a hole-in-one, what the Japanese term an "albatross", often reaches $10,000.00

  • The lot numbers for the Tylenol capsules tainted with cyanide in 1982 were MC2880 and 1910MD.

  • The U.S. Government's Pentagon building has five sides, five stories, and five acres in the center. It now also has twice as many bathrooms than necessary. This is because when it was built in the 1940's, the government still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.

  • In Chinese, the words for crisis and opportunity are the same.

  • Children born in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during the Manhattan Project were listed as having been born at Post Office Box 1663 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • Long ago, when people wanted to get rid of others who were unwanted but didn't want to kill them, they would burn down their houses in order to get the person to move on. The practice became known as "firing" the person.

  • There are no words in the English language which rhyme with words "month," "silver," "purple" or "orange."

  • The tablet the Statue of Liberty holds is two feet thick.

  • Since World War II, every American president to address the Canadian House of Commons in their first term of office have all gone on to be been re-elected to a second term. Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton have all had the honor, while Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, Carter, and Bush did not.

  • Lizzie Borden was actually acquitted of killing her father and step-mother with an axe.

  • Ms. Roe in the famed case Roe v. Wade, which basically legalized abortion in the United States, now supports the pro life movement.

  • In Colorado, it is illegal to run over a trout with a car.

  • Only two people, John Hancock and Charles Thomson, signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. The majority signed on August 2nd, but the final signature wasn't obtained until five years later.

  • Paul Revere made his famous ride on a borrowed horse.

  • The "save" icon on many Microsoft programs shows the floppy disk with the shutter on backwards.

  • The fingerprints of a koala bear are virtually identical to the patterns of a human's, so much so that they could be confused with each other at a crime scene.

  • The only fifteen letter word in the English language that can be spelled without repeating any letter is "uncopyrightable."

  • When testing the first nuclear bomb in 1945, some scientists believed that there was a two percent probability that the blast would cause the entire earth's atmosphere to ignite. They detonated it anyway.

  • In 1980, a Las Vegas, Nevada, hospital suspended several workers for betting on when patients would die.

  • Ohio is the only state not to have a rectangular shaped flag. Their's is in the shape of a pennant.

  • Croatia was the first country to recognize the United States in 1776.

  • The U.S. Government keeps its supply of silver at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York.

  • The forward slash character (/) on your keyboard is called a "virgule" or "solidus." The infinity character is called a "lemniscate." The pound sign (#) is called an "octothorp." The dot over the letter "i" is called a "tittle."

  • Dirty Harry's badge number was 2211 (San Francisco P.D.). Sargent Joe Friday of Dragnet carried badge number 714 (Los Angeles P.D.).

  • Pro golfer Wayne Levi was the first PGA pro to win a tournament using a colored golf ball (orange). He did it during the Hawaiian Open in 1982.

  • The author of "Robert's Rules of Order," was Col. Roberts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

  • Ninety-eight percent of all American drivers think they personally drive better than anyone else on the road.

  • A monkey was once tried and convicted for smoking a cigarette in South Bend, Indiana.

  • Just before President Kennedy gave Fidel Castro the ultimatum of removing ballistic missles from Cuba, he ordered several boxes of his favorite cuban cigars just in case something should happen.


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