By JO LEE Magazine

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WHY — do ships and aircraft use “mayday” as their call for help?

BECAUSE — this comes from the French word “m’aidez” meaning “help me” and is pronounced “mayday”.


WHY — are zero scores in tennis called “love”?

BECAUSE — in France, where tennis became popular, the round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called “l’oeuf”, which is French for “the egg”. When tennis was introduced in the US, Americans (mis)pronounced it “love”.


WHY — do X’s at the end of a letter signify kisses?

BECAUSE — in the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X.  Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document.  The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.


WHY — is shifting responsibility to someone else called “passing the buck”?

BECAUSE — in card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal.  If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would “pass the buck” to the next player.


WHY — are people in the public eye said to be “in the limelight”?

BECAUSE — invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theaters by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light.  In the theatre, a performer “in the limelight” was the center of attention.



WHY — is someone who is feeling great “on cloud nine”?

BECAUSE — types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud.  If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.


WHY — is the term “caddie” universal in the game of golf?

BECAUSE — when Mary Queen of Scots went to France as a young girl, Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scottish game, “golf”.  He had the first course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment.  The Scots changed cadet into “caddie” after the French pronunciation “ca-day”.





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