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Non Indicative Name: Real Life
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     Food and Drink 
  • Carls Jr's 6 Dollar Burger originally launched for about $4 and was named in order to claim that it was of the same quality that you would pay for in a sit down restaurant. Even with inflation most of the variations that have been introduced are $4.99. The Jim Beam Bourbon 6 Dollar Burger however is the only one currently that is $5.99. Over time, they have been phasing that name out in favor of "Thickburger" so that they don't end up with a "Six Dollar Burger" that costs more than $6.
  • "Lake trout", a deep-fried dish commonly sold by street vendors in Baltimore, isn't trout, and it isn't fished from lakes. It's actually whiting, a cheap bottom-feeding fish that's trawled just off of Maryland's coast. For discussions on this, watch a few episodes of The Wire.
    • To make things even more confusing, there is an unrelated species of fish called "Lake Trout"(not a true trout, but a very close relative) that lives in lakes in inland North America.
    • And what is traditionally sold in British fish'n'chip shops as "rock salmon" (or just "rock") is a whitefish unrelated to salmon. Probably why it's now often called "huss".
  • Most of what's sold in American grocery stores as cinnamon sticks are actually the bark of the Cassia tree. They're closely related and taste similar, but not identical.
  • Most of the mozzarella cheese on the market is actually imitation mozzarella, as true mozzarella must be made from water-buffalo milk. Cow milk is much cheaper.
  • Most of what is packaged as "wasabi" in American and European shops is usually not true wasabi due to cultivation difficulties. It's actually mostly horse radish. On that note, wasabi is often called "Japanese horse radish" even though it's not a species of horse radish.
    • And while we're on this topic, horse radish is not actually related to horses.
  • In Germany and Austria, there is a food called Leberkäse, which literally means "liver-cheese". It normally has neither liver nor cheese in it, unless you order a special type of it that way ("Leberkäse mit Käse" or "liver-cheese with cheese"), and is commonly translated into English as "meatloaf".
  • Chinese fortune cookies were invented in the United States.
  • Scotch eggs, Scotch pies, and Scotch broth are not made with real Scotchnote  (One is a hard-boiled egg encased in sausagemeat and breadcrumbs, the second is a mutton pie made with a particular kind of pastry, and the third is lamb/mutton broth with vegetables.) These three (along with the whisky) are among the few cases in which the correct adjective is "Scotch" rather than "Scottish".
    • Scotch eggs, contrary to the name, are not Scottish but an English snack, most probably inspired by an Indian dish.
    • On a related note, butterscotch has nothing to do with Scotland (it most likely got its name from the fact that before it fully cools, the candy is "scotched" or scored to make it easier to break up). The misnomer is even worse in Canadian French, where it's known as caramel écossais or Scottish caramel.
  • Mince Pies (the English kind) are pastries made with a filling of mincemeat. Originally the mincemeat was made up of meat, various fruits and preserves. Nowadays though, most mince pies don't contain any meat (unless you make your own at home) but the filling is still referred to as mincemeat.
  • AriZona Iced Tea is based in New York.
    • Similarly, the Nantucket Nectars juice company is based in Texas rather than Nantucket. Justified in that it used to be based in Nantucket, but was then bought out; they just kept the name.
  • Chinese Hoisin (meaning 'Seafood') Sauce doesn't actually contain any seafood. Also, judging from The Other Wiki's description, it doesn't seem to be used on seafood, either.
  • Salad cream isn't intended specifically for salads (it's essentially a non-thixotropic version of mayonnaise, hence intended for the same broad range of uses) and (unlike mayonnaise) isn't particularly creamy.
  • Many steakhouses in Colorado serve "Rocky Mountain Oysters" — which are, in fact, bull testicles.
  • Red Leicester is orange.
  • Red Rock Cider was once the subject of an advertising campaign pointing out that 'It's not red, and there's no rocks in it'.
  • The "cacahuate japonés" (literally, Japanese peanut) snack was not invented in Japan, but in Mexico. The creator was a Japanese immigrant, though.
  • The sauces of Classic French cuisine is full of these things: Sauce Allemande ("German sauce") isn't German. Sauce Espagnole ("Spanish sauce") isn't Spanish.note  Sauce Africaine ("African sauce") isn't African.note  "Créme anglaise" isn't English, or a cream!note 
  • Russian dressing, Italian dressing, and French dressing were all invented in the US.
  • Head cheese does not contain any dairy. It does, however, contain meat and gelatin from a pig's head.
  • Grape Nuts have nothing to do with grapes. Or nuts. They contain dextrose, sometimes called "grape sugar," although dextrose is more commonly known as glucose, which means "grain sugar".
  • For the longest time Apple Jacks had no apple taste at all. In fact, there was an awkward period of advertising where commercials had people surprised that Apple Jacks didn't taste like apples, when the cereal at the time actually DID taste like apples, and even contained apple ingredients.
    • "Applejack" is also the name for a particularly strong liquor distilled from apples, which was very popular during the American colonial period. The "jack" in the name has to do with a process called "jacking", or distillation through freezing, which is something most producers of Applejack no longer do.
  • French Fries actually came from Belgium, or perhaps Spain. There's some debate as to which. To those thinking it's about the style of cutting, the original verb meaning to cut in that style of cutting is to julienne (and yes, it is from France); the use of "Frenching" to refer to this comes after and because of French fries.
    • Also, they were discovered by American soldiers serving in France during World War I and brought back to the States.
    • The Other Wiki claims the phrase comes from the style of frying. That is, "french fries" are potatoes cooked in a French manner. Apparently they were known at least as early as the Revolutionary Era.
  • French Bread in Brazil is actually bread they themselves created when asked for bread "like the ones in France" by the time of the first World War.
  • An egg cream contains neither eggs nor cream. It does, however, resemble a creamed egg (creamed meaning "frothy.") Some researchers believe that early versions of the drink did indeed have both egg and cream as ingredients, as a cheaper variation on the then-recently-invented milkshake. According to this theory, the "New York Egg Cream" then removed egg and cream because they're expensive ingredients.
  • It's so common that "Nationish X" is not what Nation calls X (e.g. French Toast, French Cricket), that "English Muffin" could be regarded as a surprising aversion. What Americans call an "English Muffin" is precisely called a Muffin in England. This is the round bready object that splits into two and toasts well. The situation has become confused because what Americans call Muffin (the thing a bit like a cupcake without icing) is now well known in England and actually probably more common due to being a staple of coffee shops - but both types are simply called Muffin. This importation is quite recent. In Agatha Christie's "At Bertram's Hotel" (1965), Lady Selina Hazy complains at being served an American Muffin in America, obviously never having seen that item under that name in the UK, and also unaware that she could have got what she wanted by asking for an English Muffin.
  • Britain has or had a lot of "American-Style X" brand names that had little to do with any real American style. And then there's the fact that Danish pastries are known in Denmark as 'Viennese bread'... In a twist, neither name for Danish pastries are entirely non-indicative: Danish pastries are something of a speciality of Denmark, might have originated from Vienna, and is classified as a Viennoiserienote  product.
  • Ginger beer, Root Beer, Birch Beer, Ginger Ale and Butterbeer are all non-alcoholic drinks, though the first four were actually fermented like their more grown-up namesakes. Now, most beverages sold as these drinks are made like any other soda-pop/fizzy drink these days; a flavored syrup dissolved in carbonated water. Finding these beverages in the original, brewed and fermented form is rare.
  • And there's the Neapolitan onion sauce known as Genovese.
  • German chocolate cake is not from Germany, but American. It was originally made by Sam German.
    • For an actual German chocolate cake, by which we mean the cake is actually from Germany and also happens to be a chocolate cake, you'll want a Black Forest cake instead. (Yes, like the one in Portal.)
      • On that note, Black Forest cake is not made of black trees. It was invented in the Black Forest, though.
      • And that forest has the usual green and brown colour tones.
      • Worse, it's called Selva Negra (Black Jungle) in Spanish.
      • To make it even worse, the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is actually a mountain range, like "Bayrischer Wald", "Böhmer Wald" or "Teutoburger Wald"—albeit a mountain range largely covered in trees. But "Schwarzgebirge" or "Schwarzes Gebirge" sounds too much Mordor.
  • Sweetbreads are meats - specifically, the thymus glands of cows, pigs or sheep. Sweetmeat is a synonym for candy.
  • Long Island Iced Tea is, um, not what you want to be drinking if you just fancy a cold cuppa. It is iced, though, and presumably from Long Island, so it's at least three-quarters accurate.
  • Yakisoba's name seems to imply a connection to soba, but it is actually quite different; soba is a native Japanese type of noodle while yakisoba has more in common with Chinese noodles, as ramen does. Authentic yakisoba resembles chow mein and is essentially the Japanese take on the dish (similar to how gyoza is the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese dumpling jiaozi, or potstickers as they're often called in English).
    • There's a debate on whether or not Okinawa Soba should be considered soba (Okinawa soba noodles are not buckwheat, as required to be considered soba)
  • Toll House Cookies don't have anything specific to do with English buildings used for toll collection, they are named for the now-destroyed Toll House Inn, the restaurant (converted from a toll house actually used to collect tolls) where they were invented.
  • A lot of Chinese cuisine, especially Straits Chinese cuisine, have non-indicative names for various reasons. Some because the dish has a poetic name, usually for delicacies like "Buddha Jumps Over the Wall" (a type of shark's fin soup). Some due to poor translation such as Bak Kut Teh ("Meat Bone Tea") not actually being a form of tea or "Carrot Cake" which is not actually made from carrots but from radishes ("white carrot" in most Chinese dialects) nor is it a "cake" as most people would recognize it. Some cases are historical, the "Hainanese chicken rice" you find in South-East Asia does not actually come from Hainan, China but rather was pioneered by Hainanese immigrants (although this one is in some dispute).
  • Texas Pete hot sauce is made in North Carolina.
  • Most ice cubes are not cubic but a variety of other 3-dimensional shapes.
  • Dubliner cheese is actually made in Cork.
  • Molho à Espanhola ("Spanish-style sauce") is not Spanish, but Portuguese (it was invented in the northern city of Porto). In fact, no Spaniard ever heard of this sauce.
  • The sandwich chain Subway is managed by a holding company called Doctor's Associates Inc., the founder named the company because he was trying to earn enough money to pay for his medical school tuition. The company is not affiliated with any medical organization or personnel (although one of the cofounders had a doctorate, in physics).
  • In a bizarre double-example, one variant of the chili dog called the "Coney Island hot dog" (or "coney dog" for short) was created in Detroit, while another type called the "Michigan hot dog" was created in New York.
  • Mongolian beef is an American Chinese dish, and is simply called "Mongolian" to sound exotic. Similarly, Mongolian barbecue was invented in Taiwan.
  • Barley sugar note  does not usually contain any barley. According to some sources, including The Other Wiki, it used to be made with barley water and still is sometimes. Others say it's a mistranslation of sucre brûlé, meaning "burnt sugar".
  • A brand of sausages called "Welsh Dragon" was forced to change their name because the sausages didn't contain dragon meat.
  • New York brand Texas toast was created in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • A real life drink which aims to provide all the nutrients that one would ever need goes under the name "Soylent". It actually does not have much actual soy in it nor lentils - it's named after the fictitious meal from Make Room! Make Room!.
  • "Welsh rabbit" is melted cheese on toast. It has no particular connection to Wales, and absolutely nothing to do with rabbits. The name might have started as a mildly insulting suggestion that the Welsh just think it's a rabbit. It was probably embarrassment at this that gave rise to the variant spelling "rarebit". It goes without saying that cheese on toast isn't particularly rare, either.

     Government & Military 
  • A pretty sizable portion of American Secret Service agents aren't exactly very secretive about who they are, since their job hinges upon being recognized as security enforcers by the public. Granted, they do have undercover operatives, but they also have a uniformed division, and even their plainclothes operatives are instantly recognizable by the black suits and earpieces that they wear.
  • In most countries, the "Interior Ministry" or "Interior Department" is responsible for administering the country's law enforcement, national security, elections, and immigration (among others). The United States Departmern of the Interior does none of that - they are responsible for federally-owned lands and resources like national parks, as well as federal programs related to Native American tribes. The previously mentioned duties are split between state- and local-level police departments, specialized federal law enforcement like the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice.
  • The "Grand Old Party" (AKA the Republican Party) is not the oldest party in American politics. That would be its main rival, the Democratic Party.
  • While we're on the topic of American politics, it must be noted that Democrats are also republicans and Republicans are democrats too: the names are perfectly interchangeable. Both were chosen to connote ideas that the whole American nation could get behind (democracy and republicanism), and therefore are not in the least bit indicative of each party's ideology. In fact, the Democratic Party has undergone a massive shift in its political orientation over the last 150 years (from defending slavery and the interests of Southern cotton planters to becoming the US equivalent of a left wing party) without having to change its name. The Republican Party has not quite undergone a similar shift, but the change in it is no less remarkable: originally essentially the Yankee party of New England, Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, and the Great Lakes, with both liberal/progressive and conservative/business wings, it is now a purely conservative party essentially anathema in all of New England and in much of its former heartland as well.
  • Many Portuguese parties have names leftier than their ideologies, specially the main ones: the Social Democratic Party (PSD) is actually the centre-right party and the Socialist Party (PS) is actually just centre-left, while the Social and Democratic Center (CDS) is the most right-wing party elected to parliament. This is because they were formed after a revolution against a fascist dictatorship, a time when everyone was left (compared to the last 40 years of ruling government) and anything that was right was "salazarist" (as in "Salazar" the dictator of said fascist state).
  • The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia is a pretty-much radical far right party advocating Pinochet-esque dictatorship. Or rather was; nowadays they are more or less political clowns and no one takes them seriously. The origin of this party's name is that it was formed in 1980s, when the Soviet Union was slowly crumbling apart and "liberal" and "democratic" were buzzwords of instant political success.
  • The Danish political party "Radikale Venstre" (Radical left) is possibly the most centre-oriented party in Danish politics.
  • The "Venstre" (Left) party in Denmark is the largest right-wing party. In the 19th Century, it was the largest left-wing party but in the early 20th century it was pushed aside by the Social Democrats, so it shifted to the centre and ended up being allied with its former conservative opponents. Norway has a centrist party called Venstre (same meaning) of similar origins.
  • Same thing with the Social Democratic Party of Portugal, which is actually pretty conservative for a party named after a leftist ideology.
  • Mexico's right-wing Institutional Revolutionary Party is contradictory.
  • France's "Radical Party of the Left" sounds like it should be more extreme than the main left-wing party (the Socialist Party). While it is left-leaning it is actually one of the most moderate left-wing parties, being even closer to the political centre than parties that advocate for social democracy.
  • Selective Service, at least from the perspective of the person being selected, is neither selective nor a service.
  • The British "Special Air Service" (SAS) is actually part of the British Army. It was named such to make the Axis forces think there was a paratrooper regiment. They do make drops from helicopters, though. For added fun, it was originally referred to as the "Special Air Service Regiment", in spite of not being, nor ever having been anywhere near regiment strength.
    • The U.S Army's 10th Mountain Division is also a rather non-indicative title, or at least today's 10th Mountain. The original was genuinely specially trained to fight in mountainous terrain, but was reorganized into the 10th Infantry Division after the war, before getting deactivated in 1958. In 1985, a new light infantry division was named the 10th Mountain Division to tie into the historical 10th Mountain, but their training and role is more generalized. They even joke about it, with the division's unofficial motto being "We Don't Do Mountains".
    • At the time of its naming, there were only two US Navy SEAL teams - Commander Richard Marcinko intentionally named it "Six" to try to confuse Soviet intelligence into thinking there were more than that many such units.
  • Several of the United States District Courts have these names. Most prominent is probably the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which is based in Los Angeles and whose jurisdiction is exclusively (or almost exclusively) in Southern California (depending on your definition of Southern California); the Southern District is based in San Diego. There are a few other choice ones; a good example would be the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which, while indeed based further south of most of the State of New York (in Manhattan), it does not include the most southern point in the state (Staten Island, which is in the Brooklyn-based Eastern District of New York).

     Items 
"If this is a minigun, I wonder what a maxigun is!"
  • A police department's "narcotics division" is responsible for policing the use and distribution of all illegal drugs, even though the term "narcotic" specifically refers to a substance with relaxing or sleep-inducing properties (it has the same root word as "narcolepsy"). Several narcotics are legal drugs that can be bought in a pharmacy (like sleeping pills), but there are plenty of illegal drugs that are not narcotics (like cocaine and crystal meth).
  • The English Horn, Cor Anglais if you like, is neither English (most likely originated from Poland), nor is it a horn (it's in the oboe family, i.e. a woodwind instrument, instead of a brass instrument). Apparently, the name came from the fact that it resembled the horns of the angels in religious images of the middle ages, and therefore was called engellisches Horn (angelic horn). However, engellisch also meant English back then (vernacular), hence the name stuck.
  • "Gothic" art is actually not based on art of the East Germanic tribe. It was originally used to distinguish newer forms of art from "classical" art. It was meant to be derogatory in the same way as calling something "barbaric." Popular literature that involved dark, violent, and sexual themes was dubbed "gothic literature," and provided the basis for the "Goth" subculture.
    • Gothic to mean something dark, violent and sexual was used as a marketing ploy for "Gothic Novels" usually set in such buildings.
  • In the series of woodblock prints, ''Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji" by Hokusai, there are actually 46 prints.
  • Harvard University's Statue of Three Lies has an inscription that reads "John Harvard, Founder, 1638". First, it's not a statue of John Harvard (they picked a random student to model as by the time they got around to commissioning the statue, no one know what John Harvard looks like any more), who wasn't the founder of Harvard anyway (he donated his entire personal library, and they named the school after him). And Harvard wasn't founded in 1638.
    • So all in all, Statue of Three Lies seems to be a pretty indicative name...
      • However, John Harvard is a Non-Indicative Name for the founder of Harvard, and "founder of Harvard" and the statue are both inaccurate descriptions of John Harvard, so those are both non-indicative.
    • Likewise, Yale's statue of Nathan Hale is not a statue of Nathan Hale at all but rather a statue of a member of the Class of 1914 whose pose was decided to be the most handsome. This did not stop the CIA from wanting to acquire that statue, though Yale was so proud of the statue that they only let the CIA make a cast of it.
    • Trickily, the 1638 doesn't actually refer to the founding of the University, but to the years John Harvard died. On top of this, it wasn't officially named Harvard University until 1780, 144 years after it was founded and 142 years after John Harvard's death.
  • "The "black boxes" that record measurements in airplanes are actually orange. If you called them orange boxes people would mistake them for fruit containers.
    • That, or they'd mistake them for collections of Half-Life spinoffs.
    • They might look black after being in burning wreckage for a while.
    • They're called Black Boxes because they were initially black ... until it was realised that it's hard to find a small black object in a smouldering heap of debris or under water. Nowadays the official term is "flight recorders".
  • Boxing rings are square.
    • Pro-Wrestling lampshades this by referring to their ring as "The Squared Circle"
    • Boxing gloves don't have individual fingers, so they're more like boxing mittens, aren't they? Don't say that to a boxer's face, though.
  • The letter W (doubleyou) is actually a double V. Usually.note  In Classical Latin, U and V were the same letter, sometimes pronounced like a U and sometimes like a W (but never like a V, or a voiced F), and some languages (e.g., French, Danish, Swedish, Spanish) refer to the letter W as Double V. The reason English is different is that for some time v and u were pronounced differently depending on where in the word they were. If the word began with 'v' it was pronounced as we pronounce 'v'; if the word had a 'v' or a 'u' in it elsewhere it would always be 'u'. 'Have' would be written as 'haue', but 'value' would be 'value'.
    • Also, before the letters were standardized in their current forms, W would sometimes be written or printed as two V's in close proximity rather than as a single W.
  • The gas pedal in your car controls the flow of air, not gasoline. If you drive a diesel, it controls fuel pressure, but then the fuel's not gasoline. And for that matter, this so-called "gas" is a liquid. In modern electric cars, it controls the flow of electrons. Except in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and Canada where it's called an accelerator, which is perhaps more accurate.
    • Although, if the gas pedal did indeed control the flow of fuel, it might be correct too, as what burns is a gas; liquid gasoline will not burn. It has to evaporate and mix with oxygen to burn.
    • The technical name for that pedal has always been the accelerator (or throttle) - even in the U.S. "Gas Pedal" is simply a long standing slang term for it. Even still, since the amount of fuel that reaches the engine is directly proportional to the amount of air - it's not really that far off.
    • And in any case, only North Americans really call it "gas", the rest of the English-speaking world calls it "petrol".
    • If the "Gas pedal" controls the flow of air, and air is a gaseous state of matter, then hasn't it gone all the way around back to being an accurate name?
  • Pencil lead is actually graphite. The first "writing rods" were made from lead by Romans, but when graphite pencils were invented later, the name stuck.
  • Banana Oil: It's not made from bananas, and it's not oil.
  • Despite being commonly known as a tidal wave, a tsunami has nothing to do with tides. It took the news focusing on an actual tsunami (that killed over 100,000 people in 2004) for "tsunami" to supplant "tidal wave" in everyday vocabulary.
    • But this leads to the referring to actual tidal waves as "tsunamis", which is also wrong.
      • Tsunami are not breakers or combers (as shown in movies) but just rapid increases in water level—like tides, but waaaay faster, hence the name. Remember, "tsunami" means "harbor wave" in Japanese.
      • I knew we should have called Aquaman! Etymology Man is useless!
  • The Panama hat is made in Ecuador.
    • Before the construction of the Panama Canal, many South American goods were shipped to the Isthmus of Panama before they were loaded on ships bound for other parts of the world. As a result, the hats were named for the point from which they were sold to North America and Europe, instead of their place of origin. The name "Panama hat" is known to have been used in 1834.
  • The US five-cent piece, the nickel, is composed of three-quarters copper and only one-quarter nickel. In Canada it's even worse — it's 94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, with just a 2% nickel plating.
    • Also, the base metals which make up a US penny are worth more then one cent thanks to inflation and rising metal costs.
      • This has happened before, leading to formal restrictions: it's illegal to hoard US coins with the intent to melt them down into their component metals.
    • The name "nickel" is not particularly indicative of value; indeed, the original nickel was worth three cents, not five. "Dime" is slightly better, but only if you know its old French origins.
  • Space operas contain no singing at all. Neither do soap operas, and they aren't particularly clean, either (quite the opposite).
    • There was a time when this applied to everything on television, as most people still associated the medium with the old silent movies that were played to a musical score (the musical theme making it technically an opera). Soap operas were targeted at housewives, and so usually advertised for home cleaning products like soap.
      • And the fact that Procter & Gamble actually outright owned and produced a few of the shows such as As the World Turns until it ended.
    • Another possibility is that the name was a variation on horse operas - silent western movies accompanied (at least in large theaters) by live orchestras. Later on, some pulp science fiction stories came to be known as space operas. Jack Vance later parodied this in his novel Space Opera, which is about - what else? - an actual touring opera company IN SPACE!!
  • Anybody studying (American) Civil War firearms would be surprised to learn that "minnie" balls: A: Were pretty darn big (usually .50 to .60 caliber) and B: Were conical-shaped (pointed cones). The first part of the name is a corruption of the name of its French inventor, Claude Minie (min-nay). The second, well it just rolled off the tongue—mini-cones doesn't have the same ring...
    • Relatedly, in English-speaking military parlance, plain solid ammo without hollow points, tracers, or incendiary loads is still called "ball", despite universally being either a cylinder with one rounded end (pistol ammo) or pointed (rifle ammo).
      • In fact, the word "bullet" comes from the French word boulette, meaning "little ball".
    • In the same way, Mini-guns are actually pretty big. They got that name for being rifle caliber (7.62mm), rotary guns as opposed to the standard Aircraft 20mm (Vulcan) cannon (cannon shells can explode, gun bullets don't... usualy).
    • A single action revolver requires two actions to fire.
      • The "single action" refers to the trigger, where it only releases the hammer. In a dual action revolver or pistol, the trigger can both cock the hammer and release it.
    • Rimless ammunition has a rim.
    • Smokeless powder produces smoke when it burns.
      • Compared to black powder, there's almost no smoke and shooting it repeatedly (as in, a company of soldiers, per side) doesn't blanket the battlefield in a haze. So, taking the name literally, it does smoke less than black powder.
  • Roller Coasters often have nonindicative names:
    • They are also sometimes called "Russian Mountains". Needless to say, in Russia itself, they are referred to as "American Mountains".
    • In Poland they are called "Mountain Rail" despite having nothing to do with the mountain, railway or cable cars that are sometimes called by that name.
  • Tanks get their name because, in World War One, the British factory workers assembling the first ones ever used thought (due to their rounded shapes) that they were working on water tanks.
    • On the other hand, the fact that other tanks generally carry a lot of stuff while military tanks carry a large amount of weapons and metal gives it some relation...
    • Some apparently had the word "Water Tank" written on their sides to let the enemy scouts believe that they were just armoured support-vehicles.
    • Another version has it that when someone who had accidentally been allowed to view them (at a distance) asked what they were, the reply was "water tanks for Mesopotamia".
  • A ten-gallon hat will hold less than one gallon of liquid.
    • Three quarts, to be precise. The word "gallon" comes from (what else?) the Spanish galon, a type of braid.
  • Somewhat common with military hardware, e.g. a Claymore mine is not a sword. Sometimes this is done intentionally: the term "tank" was coined by the British to mislead their enemies into thinking they were building water carriers, not armoured fighting vehicles.
    • It can generally assumed many names for them were based off the Rule of Cool - the XM 8's name only indicates it's an American rifle (The 'M#' is a designation for many American service rifles), the X was probably just to sound futuristic-y.
      • "XM" is a designation given to experimental weapons that haven't been officially adopted yet. For example, a predecessor of the M4 carbine was the XM 177, which essentially became the CAR-15.
      • The X designation in general is used for any experimental project whether it's a gun or a fighter jet.
    • A flamethrower does not physically throw flame. It shoots it out of a hose.
  • The green room in show business is almost never actually green.
    • The green room at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest was not only not green, but also not actually a room (it was a small part of a very large room).
  • "Oxygen" is derived from a term meaning "acid-creating". This is completely backwards much of the time.
  • Platinum comes from the Latin word platina, meaning silver. They're two different elements. According to an essay by Isaac Asimov, this is because "platina" was Middle Spanish for "silver"; so when the Conquistadores found platinum in the Rio Pinto, they called it "platina del Pinto". Hence, in Modern Spanish, "platina" is platinum and "plata" is silver.
    • Probably at least partly because of the above, the chemical symbol for silver is "Ag", from the Latin argentum — which actually means "white" or "shining".
  • The "Bush differential analyzer" performs integration, and does so entirely by synthesis.
  • Floppy sizes are actually measured in metric - 3 1/2 inch, 5 1/4 inch, and 8 inch floppies are built to 90, 133 1/3 (yes, a third of a millimeter), and 200 mm specifications, respectively. Using the imperial measurements would put you within a few millimeters, but on equipment so precise, outside tolerance for all but the 5 1/4 inch.
    • Also, the size of the familiar 1.44 MB floppy is neither 1.44 binary megabytes nor 1.44 decimal megabytes. I.e. it is neither 1,509,949 bytes nor 1,440,000 bytes. The confusion stems from it being 1.44 thousand binary kilobytes, i.e. 1,474,560 bytes.
    • While 5 1/4 and 8 inch floppy disks are indeed floppy, 3 1/2 inch floppy disks have a more solid construction. They were occasionally called "stiffy" disks, but the name didn't catch on in most places. Well, the magnetic disc itself is floppy, but it is encased in solid plastic for protection.
    • The whole binary thing gives "kilobyte" and "megabyte," at least in older contexts, Non-Indicative Name status, since they contain, respectively, 2^10 and 2^20 bytes.
    • And, to further confuse things, most modern hard drive sizes are now listed in decimal gigabytes and terabytes, which makes the size 7% and 10% bigger respectively than the binary sizes.
    • Sadly for fans of unit confusion and class action suits against storage manufacturers, the confusion is being cleared up by the adoption of new units kibi, mebi, gibi and tebi, with abbreviations Ki, Mi, Gi, Ti, each of which represents an exact power of 2. Under this definition the floppy had exactly 1.44K KiB.
  • Most "MOSFETs," or "metal-oxide-semiconductor field effect transistors," made in the last few decades have neither metal as their terminal, nor oxide as their insulator. The name comes from the early days, when the best way to get an insulating layer small enough was to oxidize a thin layer of the substrate, but more precise techniques have made this obsolete. Even the "metal," due to the complexities of IC manufacture, is usually a metalloid treated to act like a metal. Some call them "IGFETs," "insulated-gate field effect transistors," for this reason, but this hasn't really caught on.
  • The Yellow Cab Company in Washington, DC has its cars painted in a distinctive black and orange two-tone livery.
  • Pharmacology just about lives off of this trope. Rifampin, amantadine, cifedipine, digitalis - can you tell what any of those drugs do just by their name alone?
  • Cans are often called 'tins' because they ''used' to be made of tin, now it's usually non-indicative (and, if the tin is labeled as such, an aversion of Exactly What It Says on the Tin.)
  • Duct tape is great for lots of things, but it stinks for sealing ducts.
  • In an article on Use It, Jakob Nielsen calls the Windows 8 operating system's name "a misnomer. 'Windows' no longer supports multiple windows on the screen."
    • As of Dec. 2013, there are rumors it may return.
  • India ink, or Indian ink, was invented in China. The name comes from the fact that materials used to make it were often imported from India.
  • Chinese checkers were invented in Germany, and they are not checkers. The name is a marketing term from the U.S.
  • As some people remarked, "the glove box is the storage compartment in your car where you store anything except gloves".

     Living Things 
  • Guinea pig is not a pig (it's a rodent) and it's not from Guinea (it's from South America).
    • The guinea pig bears a porcine name in many European languages, Chinese and Russian - the German name (from which several other languages derived their name) is Meerschweinchen ("sea piglet"), Russian similarly morskaya svinka ("sea pig"), the French sometimes calls it cochon d'Inde ("Indian pig"), a Chinese name is hélánzhū ("Holland pigs")... apparently, guinea pigs came from everywhere but South America. English guinea pig fanciers, especially breeders, also use the name cavy, but outside of those circles no one knows what it means.
    • The exception is Spanish: "conejillo de Indias" is fairly indicative, since the animal is a rodent and originated in the Western Indies (which is what the Americas were called at the time)
      • And even in South America, "Indian Pig" appears in both Spanish and Portuguese. (the name comes from both them being raised as foodstock like pigs, and coming from the Western Indies)
      • All of this goes to explain Frank Sidebottom's claim that they are worth £1.05. In other words, one pound and one shilling, or, in other words, a Guinea. Well, it's a sort of explanation.
  • As with the guinea pig, the muskrat isn't a rat at all — its nearest relatives are lemmings and voles.
  • By the same token—although few realize it—turkey (the bird) was originally named after Turkey (the country). The bird is originally from North America (where wild populations are still quite common), but when the English got a hold of it, they called it the "Turkey fowl" (later shortened to "Turkey") because it was deemed as exotic as the Ottoman Empire.
    • Again, this pattern exists elsewhere. In French, it was originally called Poulet d'Inde ("Indian chicken"), which eventually morphed into modern "Dinde", which caught on in a few places (e.g. Poland and Turkey). The Greeks, oddly, call it gallopoúla, meaning "French chicken".
    • Arabic presents a rather interesting one, as it's called Dajaj Rumi: "Byzantine Chicken"—except not. Rum (also spelled Roum) is an old Arabic term for the part of the Byzantine Empire lying in Anatolia, so it refers to Greeks calling themselves Roman and living in what is now Turkey. About a bird from the Americas.
      • Unless you're in Morocco, where, thanks to French influence, it's dinde again (except that they pronounce it "dindi").
    • The Chinese avoid misidentifying the country, but come up with a pretty weird one: huǒjī, meaning "fire chicken". Although they claim to be referring to the bird's coloration, how you interpret a large, mostly brown-and-black bird as a "fire chicken" is anybody's guess.
    • The Vietnamese call the turkey "Western chicken".
    • In Portuguese, it's Peru - because the colonizers thought the bird came from the eponymous country (neighbor to its then-colony, Brazil).
    • In Turkey itself, it is called Hindi, "the Indian," or "the American bird."
  • Blueberries and cranberries are not "true" berries, but "epigynous" or "false" berries, as are bananas and watermelons. Strawberry, blackberry, boysenberry, mulberry and raspberry are not (botanically) even "false" berries. True berries include, as well as gooseberries and elderberries, tomatoes, grapes, eggplant, and pomegranates. This one came up in QI, and people will probably agree with Alan Davies that it's the scientists who are wrong, and the rest of them are right.
  • The eggplant itself is not really a plant of "eggs".
    • The first varieties of eggplants introduced in the United States were of a bright white variety shaped like an enormous lightbulb, thus suggestive of an egg. However, when the purple varieties were introduced, those became so popular that the white eggplants fell into obscurity, becoming only a farmer's market and seed catalog novelty.
    • Eggplants are called "aubergines" in much of the English-speaking world, and the most popular varietals are that colour - though not all of them are. The name comes ultimately from Arabic "al" (the) plus baigan, the name of the vegetable in most of South and West Asia, making "the aubergine" yet another redundancy.
  • Antlion, mantisfly, dragonfly and mantis shrimp: There's no ant, lion, mantis, fly, dragon or shrimp in any of these.
    • There most certainly is ant in an antlion...if it has recently fed.
    • There is also certainly lion in antlion if it has recently been fed. Of course, we're talking big antlions.
    • Rule of thumb for insects with common names of the form " fly": If the name is written as two words, like "house fly", it's a fly (i.e. a member of the order Diptera). If it's written as one word, like "butterfly", it's not a fly.
  • Hippopotamus means "river horse" but it's more closely related to swine and the other Artiodactyla—its closest living relatives are the whales. The term coming from ancient Greek makes this Older Than Feudalism.
    • Quoth P.J. O'Rourke: "Hippopotamus does not mean river horse but rather 'river first husband'."
    • The word "hippo" therefore literally means "horse".
  • These are -fish which are all invertebrate and thus not possibly fish.
    • Crayfish: A crustacean.
    • Starfish: An echinoderm.
    • Silverfish: A dark gray creepy looking primitive insect.
    • Cuttlefish: A cephalopod.
      • The name comes from their "cuttle" bone. That said, you can find plushies of cuttlefish.
    • Jellyfish: A member of the phylum Cnidaria. Not made of jelly either. It is squishy like jelly though... but don't touch it.
    • Shellfish: generic term for mollusks with a shell.
      • More recent terminology has most of these things renamed from "(X)fish" to "Sea (X)", so Starfish becomes Seastar, Jellyfish becomes Sea Jelly, etc. However, the "(X)fish" comes from the fact that the word 'fish' comes from a noun meaning "an animal that lives in water" and all these names were actually quite indicative because they do live in water. Except for silverfish, but that's another kettle of fish entirely.
      • Funnily enough, sea horses and sea dragons are fish—albeit extremely weird-looking ones.
    • The sandfish, although a vertebrate, is a desert-dwelling lizard.
  • Velvet worms aren't worms, and also aren't made of velvet (they are covered in a velvety coat of hair, though).
    • Ringworm is not only not a worm but not an animal. It's actually a fungus. Skin infections caused by it, however, do have a vaguely ring-shaped area of swollen skin on the edge of the infected skin.
  • Another notorious misnomer from Columbus is naming the capsicum (chili, bellpepper) genus "pepper", having nothing to do with the piper family (black and white pepper).
    • The Spanish word for many species belonging to the Capsicum genus (among many others from "chile" to "ají" or "guindilla" for the different species of plants and varieties of the language) is "pimiento", and "pimienta" for the ones in the Piper genus. It's a pity words have no grammatical gender in English.
    • Supposedly it's the result of another attempted mistake cover-up by Columbus, since nearly the whole point of his expedition was to bring back piper peppers. In fairness to Columbus, however, small chilis do look a bit similar to long pepper, which was popular in Europe at that time.
  • Sweet potatoes are only distantly related to the common potato, and have even less genetic relation to yams, despite the terms being synonymous in the US.
  • The titmouse is a bird.
    • Tits are birds, not mammals, thus don't have tits.
      • Same with boobies.
      • They're still not mice.
    • The Java Sparrow is not actually a sparrow, but an estrildid finch (family Estrildidae), while true Old World sparrows are in the family Passeridae and true New World sparrows are placed in the family Emberizidae with juncos, towhees, and Old World buntings, with New World buntings being in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae).
    • The Bald Eagle is not at all bald, barring a disease or parasites causing it to lose feathers. The name actually comes from an older homograph that meant "white-headed."
    • The American Kestrel and the Merlin, both falcons (family Falconidae, both in the genus Falco), were originally called Sparrow Hawks and Pigeon Hawks by older sources. The change in name was because they are not hawks (family Accipteridae), either by the Old World definition (genus Accpiter) or the New World definition (genus Buteo).
    • The Mourning Collared Dove (Streptopelia decipiens) is not too closely related to the American bird called the Mourning Dove (even though it used to be called the African Mourning Dove), which has the scientific name of Zenaida macroura and is more closely related to the White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) and the species of the Zenaida genus simply called the Zenaida Dove (Zenaida aurita). However, at least they are both in the dove and pigeon family (Columbidae). On the other hand, the Rock Pigeon's old name of Rock Dove was not inaccurate — doves and pigeons are synonyms, but larger species tend to be called pigeons, including the Rock Pigeon (hence the name change).
  • The Congo worm is an aquatic salamander with tiny, ineffectual legs from rivers and marshes of the Southeastern United States.
    • The slow worm is a European legless lizard. It's not particularly slow, either.
  • Horseshoe crab: It's not quite a crab but more closely related to arachnids, and only horseshoe-shaped if you stretch the definition a good bit.
    • Hermit crabs are also not true crabs, nor are coconut crabs, the latter of which which are actually biologically more like giant hermit crabs that, as adults, literally outgrow the need for abandoned shells.
  • Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor a moss, but a bromeliad related to pineapples.
  • Puffinus puffinus is the scientific name for the Manx shearwater bird.
  • White tigers have black and white fur.
  • Cyanobacteria used to be called "blue-green algae," but because their cells are bacteria-like in anatomy, they are obviously no longer called "algae."
    • Similarly, archaebacteria are no longer considered bacteria. Which makes the name brilliant.
    • Originally, archaebacteria were thought to be bacteria because they had bacteria-like cells. Genetically, though, they are more related to eukaryotes (i.e., people, mushrooms, trees and amoeba), than they are to true, or "eubacteria."
  • Slime molds are not a kind of mold. They're no longer even classified as fungus at all, but protists.
  • In the human body, the small intestine is much longer than the large intestine. The names come from their width, not their length.
  • Sea cucumbers are animals, not squash.
  • Peanuts are in fact legumes, not nuts. Also, from The Other Wiki: "The word pea describes the edible seeds of many other legumes in the Fabaceae family, and in that sense, a peanut is a kind of pea."
    • This explains why for allergics, on some packs with peanuts there's still printed on "May contain nuts." In fact, they're required to list peanuts and nuts separately, but things with peanuts often get that label, because they packaged in a factory that also does nuts.
    • Cats Don't Dance has Woolie talk about how the peanut is neither pea nor nut, and briefly suggests the name "pea legume" before dropping the matter.
    • Another name for them is "goober peas", which is the closest to having it right.
    • A coconut is not a nut either, but if somebody has a allergy to nuts and nut oils, they will also be allergic to peanuts and coconuts. Even though we've just explained why this shouldn't work.
  • Pineapples are not the fruit of pines. Those are called pine cones, which used to be called pine apples and lent their name to the tropical fruit due to the superficial similarity. Neither pineapples nor pine apples are apples, either; "apple" used to refer to any type of fruit (ref. the equally non-indicative French name for potatoes, pomme de terre/dirt apple note ).
    • Pomegranates are also not apples, and neither are they grenades—although frankly, the "grenade" bit is because early grenades looked rather like pomegranates (the name comes from the Latin pomumnote  and granatumnote ).
    • They are superficially similar enough to both that the name is understandable.
  • The Polar Bear is not (as you might think) Ursus arctos (that's the Brown Bear, or grizzly), but Ursus maritimus. On a similar note- the Arctic as a region is named for the bears (the Ursa constellations), not the other way around.
    • "Ursus arctos" is effectively "bear bear", the first in Latin and the second in Greek. The Antarctic, on the other hand, is aptly named, since it comes from the Greek for "no bears".
      • Not quite, the intention was more like "Opposite of the Bears" (in the same sense as 'antipodal' means the opposite side of the planet). The Greeks were well aware that the Earth was round, and reasoned that since the climate was cold at the north end, it should also be cold at the south end since the same factors prevailed.
  • From QI:
    Rich Hall: I think it's evil to put a food in front of any bug. To name it, like, a "butterfly". 'Cause I would eat butterflies when I was a kid, because I thought they had butter in 'em. And honey bees. And a hamster. 'Cause, you know, you're four years old; you don't know better... and we were poor.
  • The Australian Shepherd dog breed is actually American. The Bombay cat breeds are a similar case, with one being American (again) and the other being British.
  • The Norway rat originated somewhere in China. A double example, as its Non-Indicative Name was bestowed by someone who mistook Danish ships, on which he thought these rodents had stowed away and spread throughout Europe, for Norwegian ones. They are also called brown rats, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Grapefruit. Well... it's orange, sour, and the size of a cannonball. At least on the tree, they grow in bunches that resemble bunches of grapes.
    • They are at least fruits, although how this is supposed to distinguish them from grapes is anybody's guess.
  • The White Rhinoceros is actually gray. The White in this species' name is from the Dutch word wijd, which means wide. It refers to the White Rhinoceros's wide lip compared to the Black Rhinoceros's pointed lip. The original meaning was subsequently lost in translation. Similarly, the Black Rhinoceros is the same gray color.
  • Most anteaters eat nothing but termites.
    • In Finnish, the word for anteater is "muurahaiskarhu", which means "ant bear". The creature is obviously neither an ant nor a bear.
  • The hagfish, aka the "slime eel", is a jawless chordate, meaning it's less closely related to genuine eels than you are.
    • Electric eels are a species of knifefish, making them more closely related to catfishes than to true eels.
  • The Cane Toad is occasionally referred to as the Marine Toad and has the scientific name Bufo marinus, but when this species reaches adulthood it only goes into the water during the mating season.
  • The Danish language loves to give most marsupials names of completely non-related mammals that they may something be similar to and sometimes not are, coupled with "marsupial". Examples are "marsupial rat" (opossum), "marsupial mouse" (several small dasyurids like dibblers and kowaris), "marsupial marten" (quoll), "marsupial anteater" (numbat), "marsupial badger" (bilby/bandicoot), "marsupial fox" (brushtail possum), "marsupial squirrel" (most species of possums) and "marsupial flying squirrel" (sugar glider).
    • Similarly, in Chinese, the word for kangaroo, "dai shu," literally translates as "sack rat" or "bag rat," in reference to the (female's) pouch, and an alleged rodent-like face.
  • Poison ivy is not ivy, poison oak is not oak, and poison sumac is not sumac. All three are more closely related to one another (and to mangoes and cashews) than any are to what they are named after—except for sumac, which is so closely related to all three of them that botanists argue about whether they should be considered species of sumac or a separate genus of their own.
  • The dinosaurs Procompsognathus, Proceratosaurus and Protarchaeopteryx are not particularly close to Compsognathus, Ceratosaurus or Archaeopteryx, instead being relatives of Coelophysis, Tyrannosaurus rex and Oviraptor, respectively.
  • Most animals with "crabeater" in their name only consume crabs occasionally or hardly at all.
    • Crabeater macaques eat mostly fruits and seeds.
    • Crabeater seals eat krill.
  • The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is smaller than the African elephant (genus Loxodonta).
  • Half of any population of ladybugs or damselflies will be male.
  • The equivalent for "bat" in French is a phrase which could be literally translated by "bald mouse". Bats and mouse aren't related, except for being two boreoeutherian mammals. Nor are bats bald.
    • Likewise, the German for "bat" is "fledermaus".
    • Same in Russian, the two-word term for "bat" literally means "flying mouse". Now imagine some of the older translations of Batman movies (e.g. Batman's "flying mouse car").
  • "Bombay duck" inhabit the waters near Bombay. So what's the problem? They live in the sea, not on it, because they are a kind of fish.
  • Ultrasaurus, while still large compared to modern land animals, was actually rather small for a sauropod dinosaur.
    • For that matter, sauropods ("lizard-feet") don't have lizard-like feet at all. Neither are the feet of ornithopods ("bird-feet") particularly bird-like — actually, the most defining feature of ornithopod dinosaurs wasn't their feet, but their beaks. To make things even more confusing, not only do the theropods ("beast-feet") not only have birdlike feet, they actually include include all birds (birds are descended from maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs).
    • Similarly, ornithischian (bird-hipped) dinosaurs were not the ancestors of birds, which in fact are descended from saurischian (lizard-hipped) dinosaurs. In fairness, the ornithischians' hips really were birdlike, and the similarity is the result of convergent evolution; indeed, birdlike hips evolved among dinosaurs not once, not twice, but three times.
  • Scientific names of fossil organisms can become non-indicative artifact titles if Science Marches On.
    • The suffix -saurus comes from the Greek word for 'lizard', but many dinosaurs and other forms of prehistoric life unrelated to lizards have that suffix in their name. A famous example is Basilosaurus ("king lizard"), which turned out not to be a lizard at all but a whale. It's also unrelated to "thesaurus" even though both are Greek words.
    • Pentaceratops ("five-horned face") in reality only had three horns. The other two are actually its large epijugals (those bumps on the side of its head, at the base of the frill) which in older pictures were made to look like genuine pointy horns.
  • As explained by Russell Coight, "As their name implies, saltwater crocs are found in salt water, but they are also found in freshwater, which is not what their name implies. It just goes to show, they're not to be trusted."
  • Koala bears are totally unrelated to actual bears, despite looking like a kind of bear cub. They also are nicknamed "Australian sloths" because of their behaviour, but they are as unrelated to sloths as they are to bears.
  • Sinosaurus triassicus is a Jurassic dinosaur.
  • Black mambas are gray, but this name is only confusing, not truly wrong. The word "mamba" means mouth, and the inside of a black mamba's mouth is black, although the rest of the snake isn't. Ironically, green mambas are green, but their mouths aren't!
  • A firefly. Not only does it not actually emit fire, it's not even a fly. It's actually a winged beetle that produces a cold light due to a type of chemical reaction, now believed in order to attract mates.
  • Two-toed sloths are better termed "two-fingered sloths" since they have three toes on each hindfoot.
  • Great white sharks are mostly gray, but they do have a white underside.
  • Flying foxes are actually large fruit bats. They get their name because their heads resemble that of a fox's, including an elongated muzzle and triangular ears.

     People 
  • Girl Writes What is a middle-aged woman, not a girl, and she posts videos where she talks instead of writing (unless you count her blog).note  However, she titles her videos with exactly what she'll be talking about.
  • Farid al-Atrash was a composer, virtuoso oud player, and top-notch singer, and was one of the biggest names in Arab music in general and Egyptian music in particular for much of the 20th century. His sister Amal (better known as Asmahan) was also a noted singer and actress. Their last name means "the Deaf."
  • Pennsylvania Dutch have German descent, not Dutch. The German word for German is "Deutsch," which sounds like Dutch.
  • The Amish, a small group of Pennsylvania Dutch, refer to all non-Amish as "English," regardless of nationality or heritage.
  • "Petite models" are between 5'6" and 5'8" — not only quite a bit taller than the usual definition of "petite," but above average in most countries (the average American woman is between 5'4" and 5'5".) They are only petite in comparison to standard runway models, who are generally around 6 feet tall.
  • "Plus size" models usually wear US clothing sizes 8 to 12. Most clothing manufacturers start plus sizes at size 14.
  • Stand-up comedian Larry The Cable Guy won't fix your cable box...and his real first name isn't Larry. In fact "Larry the Cable Guy" is more or less a character played by comedian Dan Whitney that has completely taken over his stand-up act. His middle name is Lawrence though.
  • Legendary film director Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night, Fiddler on the Roof) was raised, and still is, Protestant.
  • Suggested to be the case of H.P. Lovecraft, who was never known to craft anything romantic and a rumored Asexual.
  • Joe the Plumber, made famous by John McCain's 2008 run for president in the United States, was not a licensed plumber (he operated under his employer's license, as is legal in his state). Also, his first name was Samuel.
  • People whose first name is also the title of an occupation which they don't hold: Major, Judge, etc. Applies to other languages as well, such as Amir/Amira which is Arabic for prince/princess.
  • "Caucasian" is often used to refer to any person with European ancestry, regardless of whether they actually hail from the Caucasus mountain range in Eastern Europe.
  • Dutch DJ Afrojack is not named Jack, nor does he have an afro.
  • There are two kinds of Indians. People from India, and the natives of the American continents. This is largely attributed to Columbus mistakenly thinking he landed in India through what he thought was an undiscovered sea passage, when he had in fact landed in what we now know as the Caribbean. People tend to refer to them now-a-days as Native Americans, both to keep from offending anybody and to end the confusion. Speaking of, "West Indians" are from the West Indies, a series of islands in the Caribbean sea, not the western part of India.
  • Baseball player Juan Pierre is not Hispanic or French. He was named after pitcher Juan Marichal.
  • The Nez Perce Indians take their name from a French phrase meaning "pierced nose", but they have never traditionally pierced their noses for ornamentation. They got the name because Lewis and Clark's interpreter confused them with a different tribe (likely the Chinook tribe) that did pierce their noses.
  • Actress Brenda Song is not a singer or known to have a good voice.

     Places 
  • The Danville, California family restaurant Pete's Brass Rail & Car Wash. As the menu says, "There is no brass rail, there is no car wash, and who the hell is Pete?"
    • They, as citizens of Danville, should be asking, "Who the hell is Dan?"
    • Not to be confused with that other Danville, of coursenote , where they'd be asking "Where's Perry?"
  • A pizza place in Columbus, Ohio is called Catfish Biff's. Their slogan: "We ain't got no fish!"
  • The NASCAR track known as the Charlotte Motor Speedway is located in the city of Concord, North Carolina, which is not even in the same county as Charlotte. It is, however, just across the county line from the county that has Charlotte. Not only that, but the Charlotte city limits are only a few miles away. As Charlotte is by far the more well-known city, well...
    • Similarly, the Milwaukee Mile is neither located in the city of Milwaukee (although West Allis, where the track is actually located, is still in Milwaukee County) nor is it a true mile.
    • The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is not located in Indianapolis proper, but an enclave within the city called—wait for it—Speedway. Given that the city of Speedway is surrounded by the city of Indianapolis, this example splits hairs somewhat, but still.
  • Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, which many people take as meaning they held the surrender meeting in a courthouse. In fact, that was just the name of the town (really not much more than a hamlet, which didn't actually have a courthouse), and the ceremony was held in a civilian dwelling.
    • Also from the Civil War, the Battle of Chancellorsville was actually fought in a forest. Notable because another battle was later fought on the same ground and is known as the Battle of the Wilderness.
    • This happens a lot with battles. Historians are uncertain exactly where the Battle of Bosworth was fought, but the one thing they all agree on is that it wasn't very near the town of Market Bosworth.
  • The North Poles (Magnetic and Geographic) are situated in the Arctic Ocean, international waters. This hasn't stopped cities being named North Pole in Alaska, New York, and Western Australia.
    • Also, the North Magnetic Pole is magnetically south - it attracts the north poles of compass magnets.
  • The Holy Roman Empire pretty much owns this subcategory. It was an agglomeration of semi-independent duchies, principalities, marches, counties, baronies and city-states, plus a kingdom or two, in Germany and Central Europe with Rome under its protection. To borrow a quote from Voltaire, it was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.
    • The other Roman empire, for that matter, lasted over 650 years after losing Rome for the last time (when it turned to the Franks, giving the HRE its name), having controlled it on and off from 536-800. Yet they still referred to themselves as the Roman Empirenote , although others generally called them by names such as "Empire of the Greeks".
  • 7-Elevens are likely to be open 24/7.
    • This is an Artifact Title, since 7 AM to 11 PM used to be the store's regular hours before they expanded to being always open.
  • A demilitarized zone is supposed to not allow military activity. The Korean Demilitarized Zone (between North and South Korea), as the Wikipedia article goes, is "the most heavily militarized border in the world". You know that mined field from Die Another Day? It really exists.
    • Well, all the weapons are lined up on the outside of the border, the inside of the DMZ is more peaceable, discounting all that landmines and infiltration tunnels, that is.
  • And since we are on the subject of Korea, The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is not democratic, it's not ruled by the people, it's not a republic and it doesn't even cover the whole of the Korean Peninsula, making the name a quadruple whammy.
    • As a general rule, the more a country's official name proclaims to be for the people, the less likely it is democratic. It's not a hard-and-fast-rule, though - the People's Republic of Bangladesh, for instance.
    • From the British sitcom Yes, Minister
    Sir Humphrey: East Yemen, isn't that a democracy?
    Sir Richard Wharton: Its full name is "The Peoples' Democratic Republic of East Yemen."
    Sir Humphrey: Ah, I see, so it's a communist dictatorship.
  • The University of Texas at Dallas is not actually in Dallas (save for a couple of buildings), but is instead mostly located in a suburb of Dallas, Richardson.
    • The University of Dallas, a small Catholic liberal arts institution, is in Irving. It is a mile or so from the site of the old Texas Stadium, where the "Dallas" Cowboys used to play.
    • The State University of New York at Buffalo, is mostly not in Buffalo, but rather in the suburb of Amherst.
    • Grand Canyon University is in Phoenix, which is a four-hour drive from the Grand Canyon. It's something of an Artifact Title, since the school was originally located in Prescott, Arizona. But that's still only about two hours closer to the canyon.
  • The (rather fancy) Glaswegian restaurant The Ubiquitous Chip is so called because, for the first thirty years of its existence, it - almost uniquely among Scottish restaurants - didn't sell chips. It now does, but only at lunchtime, and they are described as "hand-cut".
  • Wake Forest University is actually not located in the town of Wake Forest, North Carolina, it is in Winston-Salem, which is over 100 miles away from there. It was located in Wake Forest for its first 122 years but moved in 1956. The university actually predates the town by 46 years and the city was even originally named the Town of Wake Forest College.
  • University of Phoenix Stadium is not where the University of Phoenix plays sports. As a matter of fact, it is a for-profit college with no intercollegiate athletics program; it just bought the naming rights to where the Arizona Cardinals play. It's also not even in Phoenix, but Glendale.
    • The same is true of Cooley Law School Stadium. Law schools do not field official intercollegiate athletics teams (some have unofficial club softball teams, but that's it). Instead, the law school just bought the naming rights to the stadium where the Lansing Lugnuts (a minor-league baseball team) play (it was previously Oldsmobile Park; since Oldsmobile no longer exists, they needed to change the name, and the law school stepped in).
  • Italy's Naples and Russia's Novgorod are among the oldest cities in their respective countries. Both of their names mean "new city".
    • Similarly, the Pont Neuf ("brand-new bridge") in Paris is the oldest bridge of the city.
    • Also, New College is actually the oldest extant college in Oxford University.
  • Kyoto (literally "capital city") no longer the capital of Japan.
  • Tokyo Disney Resort is not located in Tokyo proper; it is located in Chiba, just east of Tokyo. The Tokyo Game Show is held at the Makuhari Messe, also in Chiba.
  • In a similar fashion, Disneyland Paris isn't located in Paris but in a suburb 20 miles to the east of the city.
  • The Seibu (西武, 西 meaning "west") department store is on the east side of Ikebukuro station. The Tobu (東武, 東 meaning "east") department store is on the west side.
  • Rhode Island is part of the mainland United States. See the Other Wiki for some theories on how it got this name.
  • University buildings may fall into this trope over time. For instance, the Old Horticulture Building at Michigan State University houses...the Department of Romance and Classical Studies (that's "Romance" as in "Romance languages"). Yes. Horticulture is housed in the Plant and Soil Science Building, which actually is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The country of Greenland is icy, while neighboring Iceland is green.
  • The Kansas City you're most likely talking about is in Missouri. (There is a Kansas City in Kansas right across the river, but it's smaller.)
  • Orange and Orange County in California in modern times. They used to grow oranges there.
  • The Canary Isles are named after a seal (origin. lat. Insula Canaria or "isles of seals")
  • There are several English 'forests' where there are few, if any, trees to be seen. Large tracts of Dartmoor Forest in Devon, Macclesfield Forest in Cheshire and the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire are bare open moorland with trees confined to the occasional river valley. In English law a forest was simply an area to which Forest Law applied, in other words a royal hunting ground.
  • The Quad Cities straddling the Mississippi River are actually five cities. There used to be four, but when the Iowa city of Bettendorf joined the name had grown too well-known to alter.
  • The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Located in Humlebæk, Denmark. According to its wikipedia article, "The name of the museum derives from the first owner of the property, Alexander Brun, who named the villa after his three wives, all named Louise."
  • The small town of Arkport, New York, has no ports to speak of.
  • Yeovil Junction railway station is outside the boundaries of the town of Yeovil, and you cannot change trains there (although you can sometimes get a bus from there to Yeovil's other railway station, Yeovil Pen Mill, which is on a completely separate line). Again, an Artifact Title - before the Beeching cuts, there was more than one railway line regularly serving Yeovil Junction.
  • Likewise, Clapham Junction railway station is about a mile from the nearest part of Clapham — it's actually in Battersea. It was given its name because at the time the station was built, Battersea was regarded as a seedy and run-down area, whilst Clapham was seen as trendy and upmarket (as it was again in the 1980s, when the Duchess of York lived there), so the railway company stretched a geographical point.
    • And while we're on the subject of Battersea... the place is mostly known to British people for two things: Battersea Power Station and Battersea Dogs (and Cats) Home (and formerly Battersea Park, which hosted the "funfair"). Both of which are in Nine Elms (next door to one another, and quite near the Park), which is a good mile away from Battersea and is a grim industrial area, while Battersea is rather posh. Oh, and Nine Elms doesn't have any elms in it. It used to have elms, but there don't ever appear to have been nine of them. Right, rant over.
    • Battersea Funfair was an amusement park, not a funfair. Recently (March 2010) there have appeared in London (UK) adverts for a so-called "travelling theme park", which is a contradiction in terms; the amusement industry definitions are that if it travels it's a fair, whilst if it stays in one place it's a park. (A fairground stays in one place, but the collections of rides it hosts are temporary, hence still fairs.)
  • Despite its name, the majority (55%) of the London Underground's tracks aren't actually underground. Some stations even have platforms above street level.
  • On a similar note; the Rotterdam Metro runs mostly above ground, on elevated rails and stations and a significant part of it's infrastructure isn't located in Rotterdam.
  • The Jewish Autonomous Oblast of Russia. At the time of the establishment of the oblast (1934), 16% of the population was Jewish. In 2010, this number had dwindled down to a whoping 1%, a mere 1,600 people, with only a fifth of those being practicing Jews.
  • Coronado, California is also known as Coronado Island, even though technically it's a peninsula.
  • Stansbury Island in the Great Salt Lake is only an island when the lake has unusually high water levels. Otherwise it's a peninsula. When water levels get low, the lake's major island, Antelope, also becomes an extension of the mainland.
  • The Niagara Peninsula is not actually a peninsula, but rather an isthmus.
  • A country ruled (or, more often these days, nominally ruled) by a monarch is always called a "kingdom" even if the monarch is a queen. (However, if the monarch is a prince or princess, the country is a "principality" — the Disney Wiki gets this one wrong regarding Sugar Rush.)
    • Also, almost anyone titled Prince/Duke/etc. of some place that isn't an independent nation probably doesn't even have the nominal authority that the ruler of a typical constitutional monarchy has. For example, the Prince of Wales has no particular authority or responsibilities in Wales beyond what he has across the kingdom as a whole, which officially isn't much but in practice is a pretty impressive amount of fundraising and awareness campaigning for various causes.
  • Every now and then, you will find a ring road that's actually a half-ring.
  • A common joke in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte is that the borough of Funcionários ("workers") is populated by millionaires, and Milionários ("millionaires") is filled with workers.
  • The German states of Saxony and Lower Saxony do not border each other. Lower Saxony is also Northwest of Saxony. And Saxony-Anhalt is located between them and borders both.
    • But Lower Saxony is downriver of Saxony on the Elbe. Just as Upper Canadanote  was upstream of Lower Canadanote  on the St. Lawrence.
  • Norfolk County, Massachusetts is to the south of Suffolk County, and has been ever since 1793, when it split off from Suffolk County (which is now just Boston and three neighboring towns). There was, however, a previous Norfolk County which existed between 1643 to 1679 that was actually to the north of Suffolk County.
  • There is a town named North in the center of South Carolina, which itself is generally considered part of the Deep South of the US.
  • East Palo Alto, California is not the eastern part of Palo Alto. It's a separate city located due north of Palo Alto.
  • Contrary to most modern naming standards, archaeologists talking about ancient Egypt use "Upper Egypt" to refer to the southern portion and "Lower Egypt" to refer to the northern portion. The reason behind this is because Upper Egypt has higher elevation, therefore making it uphill and upstream along the Nile from Lower Egypt.
  • Same for "Lower Canada" (modern Quebec) and "Upper Canada" (southern Ontario).
  • The Sea of Galilee referred to in The Bible is actually a freshwater lake that feeds the Jordan River.
  • Metropolis, Illinois is actually a pretty small town.
  • There are three towns in New Jersey that have the word "mount" in their names, but are not located in mountainous terrain. Mount Ephraim has no high land whatsoever, Mount Holly is on a plateau if anything, and though Mount Laurel is home to quite a few hills, none of them actually qualify as mountains. The highest point (called High Point) in all of New Jersey is only 1,802 feet above sea level.
    • Along similar lines, the borough of National Park, New Jersey, is neither in or near a national park. The nearest national park to the borough is Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, 200 miles away.
  • The state of Nevada is named for the Sierra Nevada, which is in California.
  • If you go to Applebee's don't try to order baked apples as one of your sides because they don't have them. It's named after the applewood they use for their grill.
  • Wall Street Pizzeria in Franklin, Tennessee known for their slogan "The best pizza NOT on Wall Street"
  • Manhattan College in New York City. It's in the Bronx, having moved from Manhattan over 90 years ago.
  • Ninety Mile Beach in New Zealand is in fact fifty-five miles long.
  • The town of Herne Bay in England is on the seanote , but on a stretch of coastline that is perfectly straight. It was originally a fishing village simply called Herne, but when it was developed as a seaside resort somebody decided that adding the word Bay would make the place sound more interesting. (Slightly justified in that the village of Reculver, a few miles to the east of Herne Bay, is on the western edge of an about-10-miles-long bay, at the eastern edge of which can be seen Birchington, on the outskirts of Margate.)
  • Manhattan's proposed Park51 community center, which was dubbed "The Ground Zero Mosque" by many in the American media, is not a mosque, and it's not located at Ground Zero. It's an Islamic Community Center with facilities open to the general public, and it's two blocks away from the original site of the World Trade Center.
  • Many Interstate highways are fully contained within a single state, such as Interstate 4 across the middle of Florida or Interstate 96 across Michigan (Detroit to Muskegon). This is also true of the three Interstates in Hawaii, as well as most 3-digit loops and spurs from parent routes.
  • Northwestern University is in Chicago, which most people don't think of as being Northwestern.
  • The luxury jewelry store Gearys Beverly Hills is owned by Thomas Blumenthal, grandson of Fred Meyer. It was founded by city councilman H.L. Geary, but was bought by the Meyers in 1953.
  • The modern Madison Square Garden is not on Madison Square.

     Sports 
  • "Football" was originally a term for any ball sport played on foot rather than on horseback. However, it is generally assumed that "foot" refers to kicking the ball, so many people find it odd that sports such as American and Australian rules football, which include a lot of ball handling, use the name.
  • The Big Ten Conference in collegiate athletics was rendered non-indicative when it added an eleventh member in 1990. The number eleven was hidden within the logo to represent the true number of schools. In 2012 a twelfth school was added and the logo was changed again, giving up on even alluding to the true number of schools. Now the letters "I" and "G" in "Big" are subtly altered and recolored to look vaguely like the number "10."
    • With the defection of Nebraska and Colorado in 2011, the Big 12 currently has has ten teams. So yes, the Big Ten has 12 teams and the Big 12 has 10 teams.
      • And in 2014, the Big Ten goes up to fourteen members (with the addition of Rutgers University and the University of Maryland).
    • Similarly, the Atlantic 10 Conference actually has thirteen full-time members. When Davidson College joins in 2014, it will have 14 members.
  • Jason Kidd, who retired from the New York Knicks at the end of the 2012–13 season and is now the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, was born on March 23, 1973, making him 40 years old at his retirement from play.
  • Neither the New York Jets nor the New York Giants of the NFL play in New York City. They don't even play in New York state (unless they're playing the Buffalo Bills on the road): their stadium (they share one, which can be all kinds of awkward) is in New Jersey.
  • Australian Rules Football: When first formed, the Brisbane Bears played their home games at a ground 70 miles from Brisbane, and their mascot was a koala. They have since moved to Brisbane proper, and merged with Fitzroy to become the Lions.
  • Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey has never hit a homer, nor does he give up a high amount of them. As his birth name is David Dewitt Bailey, his baseball name is thus triply non-indicative.
  • Charley Winner only had three winning seasons out of seven as an NFL head coach.
  • The National Hockey League has had teams from both the U.S. and Canada for almost all of its history, which makes it international rather than national.
    • It was founded in 1917 with four teams, all Canadian. The Boston Bruins were the first American team to join, in 1924. Today, the majority of teams are in American, and ironically many people assume that "National" refers to the US, and the inclusion of Canadian teams makes it a misnomer!
    • The same goes for the NBA, National Basketball Association, which currently hosts one team from outside the US (the Toronto Raptors) and used to host the Vancouver Grizzlies before they moved to Memphis, Tennessee.
    • Minor Junior Hockey. The Canadian Hockey League has American teams. Breaking this down:
      • The Ontario Hockey League has teams in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
      • The Western Hockey League has five teams on the US side of the border, four in Washingtonnote  and one in Oregon. In fact, the US teams are all grouped in the "U.S. Division".
      • The LHJMQ (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) has teams in every Maritime province except Newfoundland and Labrador. It once had a team in Maine as well.
    • The East Coast Hockey League had teams in the Western U.S. before renaming itself as the ECHL (just the initialism, no words).
    • Both versions of the International Hockey League, at times, included teams from the U.S. only.
  • Baseball's World Series only involves teams from North America.
    • Also in baseball, prior to 1994, the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds played in the National League's West division. Both cities are farther east than Chicago and St. Louis, whose teams, the Cubs and Cardinals respectively, played in the National League East. Major League Baseball fixed this issue in 1994 when they realigned the divisions. Atlanta was placed in the East division where it belonged, and the other three teams went into the newly created Central division.
    • Except for a few brief seasons in the early and middle 20th century, the Chicago White Sox have never worn white stockings.
      • During several seasons, and for decades-long stretches, the Boston Red Sox have eschewed red stockings.
      • For roughly half the 20th century, the Cincinnati Reds' dominant uniform color was navy blue.
      • And during the 1950's when they changed their name to the Redlegs during the Red Scare, they made it clear they weren't a team made up of Communists.
      • The Cleveland Browns' dominant uniform color is orange (as on their helmets; their home jerseys are brown, however, and their away jerseys are white with brown lettering and numbering). They were named after their former coach, Paul Brown.
      • Throughout their existence, the New York/San Francisco Giants have generally fielded men of ordinary height and weight.
      • This is not the case for the New York football Giants, but some of the players are of average size.
    • While we're talking about division alignments in sports... the NFL. Yes, we really have to go there. A quick summary:
      • From 1995 to 2001, the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys (both in the southwestern US) were in the NFC East, while four of the five teams in the NFC West were east of Dallas. note 
      • The realignment in 2002 mostly fixed these issues, but intentionally left a few teams in odd places for historical reasons. Dallas is still in the NFC East because of their traditional rivalry with Washington, for example.
  • For at least the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons, the Winnipeg Jets played in the NHL's Southeast division. Justified, as they were the Atlanta Thrashers the previous season. (and in a weird adequacy, the city is on the southeast part of Manitoba)
    • Further, many teams that play in the NHL's Western Conference would play in other league's Eastern Conferences (Specifically, the Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets). At the very least, they label the division they play in the "Central Division", though they're still east of the center of the US.
    • Extensive realignment for the 2013-14 season resolved these issues. Though the Nashville Predators are still in the West (like the Tennessee team of the NBA, the Memphis Grizzlies), and the new Atlantic Division is a misnomer at its finest: only Boston and the Florida teams are by the ocean (and in Tampa's case, it's the Gulf of Mexico).
  • The World League of American Football (WLAF) flip flopped between playing it straight and aversion. Originally (1991 & 1992) it featured teams from 5 countries and 2 continents (aversion), when it was revamped in 1995 it only featured European teams (straight) before being renamed the NFL Europe (aversion). At the end even the NFL Europe name was a bit of a misnomer as the 6-team league featured 5 German teams with a sole Dutch team keeping it from turning into NFL Germany.
  • In baseball, a "foul pole" is a pole on either side of the outfield fence which separates a foul ball from a fair ball, even though a ball that hits the pole is fair.
  • Formula One has a few instances of this. The Luxembourg Grand Prix was in Germany, the San Marino Grand Prix was in Italy, and the 1982 Swiss Grand Prix was held at a track near Dijon, near the Franco-Swiss border. Though to be fair on that last one, Switzerland had banned motorsport in the country in The Fifties.
  • In American football, "touchdown" does not require you to touch the ground with the ball. Rugby League and Rugby Union's "try", however, does.
  • Minor league baseball team the Indianapolis Indians is not affiliated with the Cleveland Indians, and haven't been since 1956.
    • Minor league baseball's "Pacific Coast League" now includes teams as far off the Pacific coast as Nashville, Tennessee. Even this league's "Pacific" divisions include Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, and El Paso (though that team was in Portland only a few years ago).
  • It is entirely possible to "sail" a boat with no sails at all.
  • The UEFA Champions League. It isn't a league, and most of the teams competing in it aren't champions. Oh, and there's no apostrophe in "Champions" for some reason.
  • From 1979-1999, the World Wrestling Federation was operated by a company named Titan Sports. During this period, the promotion publicly stated on several occasions that Professional Wrestling was pre-determined, thus stating they were not technically operating a sports company. (Being owned by Titan Sports, the WWF did not have any sort of federated structure.) The name was changed in 1999 to World Wrestling Federation Entertainment (now World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE Inc.) as the beginning of the company's attempts to be treated as an entertainment company. (Ironically, WWFE then would attempt to run a legitimate sports league, the XFL, two years later.) The Titan name remains as part of one aspect of the WWE experience; as the name of the TitanTron screen where wrestlers come out from backstage.
  • None of the races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup could be considered sprints. Sprint is the telecommunications company that sponsors the series.
  • And Dale Earnhardt's famous "pass in the grass" wasn't actually a pass - he was ahead and was preventing himself from being passed.
  • Tap out, which is the name of a submission combat sport, would probably be confused for a harmless children's game if somebody didn't even know what the actual sport was about.
  • The Third Saturday in October football match between Alabama Crimson Tide and Tennessee Volunteers hasn't usually taken place on this day since 1992.
  • In shooting, a clay pigeon is a target shaped like a frisbee.
    • "Clay pigeon" makes a lot more sense when you remember that the sport began using real pigeons as targets.
  • Millwall FC are no longer in Millwall; they moved to New Cross decades ago. Where their original ground was is now Millwall Park. When the Docklands Light Railway was being built, using the trackbed of the disused line which once carried supporters to/from Millwall home games, the idea of naming the adjacent station "Millwall Park" was rejected due to possible confusion; it was named "Mudchute" instead.
    • Similarly, Arsenal FC have long since moved to Highbury from Woolwich.
    • Chelsea FC have never been based in Chelsea as it has always been a posh district. Possible reasons for their name are (1) "Chelsea" sounds more upmarket than "Fulham" (in the same way that Clapham Junction was called that instead of the more accurate Battersea Junction), or (2) there was already a Fulham FC.

     Misc. 
  • Renaissance Festivals are typically modeled after England in the Medieval period or the Elizabethan period (sometimes a combination of both), but they have next to nothing to do with the culture of Renaissance Italy.
    • On that note, one of the most popular traveling acts on the Renaissance Festival circuit is a comedy trio called "The Tortuga Twins".
  • The Oedipus Complex is named after a character that didn't have it: Oedipus didn't know that the man that he murdered was his father or that the woman that he married was his mother, and was revolted by both revelations. Moreover, he wasn't in love with his mother, and he didn't hate his father—he killed his father after a chance encounter with him (because his father tried to run him off the road with a chariot), and he only married his mother (the queen) as reward for slaying the Sphinx and replace the missing king.
    • Likewise, a Napoleon Complex is in reference to Napoleon Bonaparte, who was actually of average height by modern day standards. The confusion came because the inches the French used was larger than the inches the British used, along with Napoleon often being painted surrounded by rather tall soldiers which made him seem shorter by comparison.
  • When a foreign language has a word that looks like the English, but turns out to mean something completely different. These are false friends, or, in French, faux amis.
    • Spanish Protip: A guy cannot say "Estoy embarazado" since embarazo means pregnancy, not embarrassment. Okay, Mr. Seahorse can but that's it! Girls are also recommended to not say it unless they've recently been knocked up.note 
    • Similarly, "excitado" does not mean "excited". It means "sexually aroused".
    • Possibly by chance, both German and Spanish have similar traps. "Ich bin heiß"/"Estoy caliente" don't mean "I am at a high temperature". They mean "I am sexually aroused". note  Likewise, "ich bin kalt" and "Soy frígido/frígida" means "I am sexually frigid" whilst "I am (feeling the) cold" is "mir ist kalt"/"tengo frío".
    • Bizarro means brave, not weird or strange (though many Spanish speakers forget this). Egregio means illustrious or distinguished, but you can still drink up if you want. "Egregious" used to mean the same thing in English too.
      • It still does; it's just changed from "exceptionally good" to "exceptionally bad".
    • The Slovak and Czech term for "(economic) competition" - "konkurencia/konkurence" - sounds awfully similar to the English word "concurrence", which, of courese, means "parallel progress". The terms clearly stem from the same roots of international vocabulary, but have likely experienced quite a big shift in the semantics of said vocabulary...
    • People have drawn the wrong conclusion about Romans for years because of the word "vomitorium." It sounds like a place to unload some food and drink during a really long party. In reality, it's a stadium exit—because a properly-designed one will spew people out rapidly once the games are over. If you've ever been to a game or other event at a sport stadium, and gone out through one of those exit tunnels, you've been in a vomitorium.
    • False cognates are words that looks similar and have similar meanings, but are completely unrelated. Not the same as false friends (which can sometimes be cognates).
      • An example would be the Greek word θεός (theos) and the Nahuatl teotl; both words mean "god" in their respective languages but we're pretty sure ancient Greece and the Aztec Empire never had contact with one another outside of a game of Civilization (wherein one probably conquered the other).
      • Another: in Finnish and Japanese, "matto" means a carpet or a floor rug. It's even pronounced the same way. There are in fact two hypotheses proposing a genetic relationship between Finnish and Japanese, but the etymology of this specific word has nothing to do with that.
      • And another: in Mbabaram, an extinct Australian Aboriginal language completely unrelated to English, the word for "dog" is "dog".
      • The Indonesian word air means water in English. However, the Indonesian pronunciation of air sounds much closer to Aiur, not "err."
      • The word "yama" means "mountain" in Japanese and "pit" in most Slavic languages.
      • The German word 'Gift' means poison in English. This caused a big problem after World War II because families of soldiers stationed in Germany wrote the word on packages to get out of duty payments. (This becomes vaguely ironic when one realizes that "Gift" originally meant the same thing in Old High German—the direct ancestor of modern German—as it does in English, but eventually became a euphemism for "poison" and finally the word for poison once the original word had been forgotten through widespread use of the euphemism.)
  • The word inflammable, that misleadingly means the same as flammable. We owe that to the Latin language, since it comes from the verb inflamare. Raise the subject in public and make sure to get marshmallows.
    Mordin: Flammable! Or inflammable! Forget which! Doesn't matter!
    • For those who are curious, the word you would use to indicate that something is not prone to catching fire is "nonflammable". You may believe such a word to be superfluous, but believe us, we've tried.
    • And on that note, the word "invaluable" actually means "very valuable" (as something "invaluable" cannot be valued, i.e. is beyond price/is priceless).
    • An "outstanding" project or assignment, likewise, can either mean one that's impressively well-done, or disgracefully overdue.
    • And as noted above, "egregious" (literally "outstanding") started off as meaning "outstandingly good", then for a while was used to mean that or "outstandingly bad" (to the confusion of George Orwell, who accused a writer of using the word "wrongly"), and has now settled down in the "bad" meaning.
      • It is still used with the "outstandingly good" sense on the Portuguese national anthem: "Entre as brumas da memória,/Ó Pátria, sente-se a voz/Dos teus egrégios avós,/Que há-de guiar-te à vitória!", meaning "Among the haze of memory,/Oh Fatherland, one feels the voice/Of your distinguished forefathers,/That shall lead you to victory!"
  • "Mist" means "dung" in German, as the Rolls-Royce company learned only just in time to fix the nameplates on its "Silver Mist" model. Much like "gift," this is an old Germanic word in which the term took different directions in different languages; in West Germanic, the word meant "the steam coming off a dungheap." In time, the Ingvaeonic and Istvaeonic languages (including English, Dutch, and Low German) retained the romantic light-fog association and forgot about the excrement, while Old High German—the ancestor of modern Standard German—retained the association with excrement and forgot about the fog.
  • A number of wars are referred to by either incorrect or misleading names.
    • The Social War was not a Roman civil war, but a war against the subject Italian cities. Socii was Latin for 'allies,' and the name was just carried forward. The same applies to an earlier conflict between Athens and its allies.
      • Generally, "civil" wars aren't fought with any noticeable politeness.
    • The Hundred Years War lasted 116 years.
      • And the Eighty Years War lasted for 68 years of fighting, but 80 from beginning to end. The Twelve Years' Truce separated two lengthy periods of warfare. Also, only one of the parties involved (The Netherlands and Spain) considers it a war.
    • The French and Indian War was not France vs. the indigenous peoples of the American continent. The French and Indians fought together against the British. (There were Indians on the British side too.) Dave Barry Slept Here refers to this confusion, further asserting, "The British didn't even realize they were suppose to be in this war until several years after it started, by which time the French and the Indians, totally confused, had inflicted heavy casualties upon each other."
      • It should also be noted that the French and Indian War was actually just one theater of a larger conflict known as the Seven Years' War, which lasted nine years... in America; in Europe the war started after a two year delay.
      • Some historians have called the period of fighting between Britain and France from roughly 1689 to 1815 (including the Seven Years' War) the "Second Hundred Years' War." Actual length, 126 years.
    • La Guerra de los Pasteles (literally the War of the Cakes) was fought because of complaints made by a French baker whose property was damaged during previous battles in Mexico.
      • The baker was among one of the many complainers who got their property damaged among the conflicts. Now is told he may not even existed so...
    • The War of 1812 lasted three years (from January 1812 to February 1815). At least it began in 1812.
    • The Korean War began as a war between North and South Korea. When it ended, it was largely a war between the United Nations and China. Though the name still makes sense if taken to mean "a war fought on the Korean peninsula."
    • During the American Revolution, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on Breed's Hill.
  • Arabic numerals are from India. They got the name because Europeans learned them from Arabs.
    • Arabs call them Hindu numerals.
    • They're also sometimes known as Hindu-Arabic numerals.
    • And the European, Arabic and Indian sets of numerals are all somewhat different.
  • Exploding head syndrome. Does not involve explosions.
  • Team Shanghai Alice. It is not based in Shanghai and only contains one member, whose name isn't Alice. And... okay, technically Touhou does have a character named Alice (who owns a puppet named Shanghai), but this is probably unrelated.
  • The correct legal definition of "assault" doesn't actually refer to assaulting anything, but making a threat (if they carry is out, it's battery). The phrase "assault and battery" has blurred the line in the public eye, so that many people think that assault is battery. But they are, in fact, different things.
    • Also, while "battered" is commonly understood to refer to serious physical harm, "battery" legally means any unwanted physical contact. Breathing on someone might even qualify.
    • Adding to the confusion, these definitions are only universal in the civil law of torts; criminal assault and criminal battery have a bewildering array of definitions across the common-law world (with the US—where each state has its own definition—providing the bulk of the confusion).
  • The Underground Railroad was underground only in the political sense (secret) and was not a railroad.
    • Of course, openly calling it the "Slave Escape Network" would have hamperered its operations.
  • The Guilford College Yachting Club is home to the "geek club" centering itself on sci-fi, gaming, and anime - they put on a con called "What the Hell Con" which has an incredibly indicative name. Legend has it that the geeks took over a real club about boats and need the longevity of the club's name to get the level of funding they need.
  • The linchpin of Einstein's two theories of relativity is that certain things (like the laws of physics and speed of light) are not relative to your frame of reference.
  • The Scripps National Spelling Bee has had contestants from outside the US since 1997.
  • The school colors of Green High School (near Akron, Ohio) are orange and black.
  • The Spanish Flu of 1918-1919 originated in the American Midwest. It was called Spanish Flu because Spanish newspapers were the only ones reporting about it freely. This was because the disease nearly killed King Alfonso XIII of Spain, making it massive news for the Spaniards, and also because the country was neutral in World War One, and thus was not subjected to war-time censorship.
  • Oktoberfest is held in September in most areas.
    • Same thing goes for the original at Munich, which is two weeks long and ends on the first October weekend.
  • In Russia, the February and October revolutions of 1917 respectively took place in March and November. This was because Russia was using the Julian calendar at the time, which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar.

  • RPG no longer describes most of the video games the label is attached to anymore, and makes even less sense when spelled out. Even before game-makers were jumping on the bandwagon to add RPG Elements, the meaning had been diluted for over a decade by JRPG's, so few reviewers bother to challenge them with: "What makes this a Role. Playing. Game?"

    Besides, early RPGs were actually simple adventure games heavy on tactical combat with no actual role-playing in the strict sense of this word. They were, and for the most part, still are devoid of elaborate dialogues and reactive world typical for the real RPGs.
  • Georgia College has an event each semester right before finals called Midnight Breakfast. It starts at 10pm and goes till 11:45.
  • Rationalization doesn't usually involve very much reason or rationality at all.
  • Scorpion Racing is a Canadian manufacturer of dirt bike parts that has nothing to do with racing scorpions.
  • The permafrost, which is perpetually frozen soil in the Arctic, is not really permanent at all, as proven by climate change especially in some worst-case scenarios.
  • The Afrikaans language is not native to Africa; it's a Germanic language derived from Dutch. It is spoken in the country of South Africa, but nowhere else on the continent.
  • The late Randy Pausch's "The Last Lecture" was the last lecture he gave as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, but not the very last lecture in his life. He gave a lecture on time-saving at the University of Virginia, where he formerly taught, two months later.
  • The Catholic Church. "Catholic" means "all-encompassing". Nowadays, it most certainly is not. This stretches back to the 11th century, where they continued calling themselves "the Catholic Church" when the Eastern Orthodox Church split off.
  • Most surnames come from nicknames that described someone's appearance, recent family lineage, birthplace, occupation or personality. These nicknames got turned into surnames that get passed down to people that they no longer describe. We all know Smiths who aren't smiths and MacDonalds whose fathers aren't named Donald. And people named Young can be as old as anyone else.
  • The word denude means actually making something nude. Declothe also means that.
  • In a seemingly non-indicative description, Antarctica is considered a desert simply because the only qualification for a desert is its lack of precipitation. Antarctica on average gets 8 inches on the coast, much less inland. Which also puts Antarctica the largest desert in the world, not the Sahara.
  • Events of the Night of the Long Knives last three days instead of a single night. The Night of the Long Knives was a series of murders commanded by the heads of the Nazi Party; said murders resulted from gunshots instead of stabbing. The name of the event is actually taken from a song of the Sturmabteilung (the official victim of this purge).
  • Many retail stores start their "Black Friday" event on Thursday night. note 
  • "Reality television": the term is probably derived from the idea that professional actors aren't used, and the drama isn't scripted—but the situations are often so contrived or manipulated by the producers that this term can be seen as a misnomer, and misleading if it's relying on the inherent virtue of the word "reality" to appeal to viewers.
  • The JavaScript programming language has absolutely no relation to the Java programming language: it was originally named LiveScript but was renamed JavaScript at the last minute simply because Java was popular at the time.
  • The Australian Vaccination Network was told in December 2012 to change its name to something that clearly reflects its anti vaccination agenda or be shut down.
  • A fireman works for the fire department, his boss is a fire chief, he will ride around in a fire truck, use a fire hose, a fire ax, and hangs out in a firehouse with a fire dog. None of these things are on or project fire, but are instead associated with putting fires out.
    • Unless you're talking about the world of Fahrenheit451 or Bioshock Infinite that is. In that case, they do actually burn things.
    • Or you're talking about steam engines, in which case a fireman is the person who keeps the fire going.
  • The months of September, October, November, and December aren't the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th months respectively... even though that's their numeral prefix. They used to be, however; the Romans changed the beginning of their year from March to January sometime in the 2nd or 3rd century BCE.
    • Likewise, July and August were originally called Quintilis ("fifth") and Sextilis ("sixth"). They were respectively renamed after Julius Caesar and Octavius Caesar Augustus.
  • Diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus are unrelated; the former is caused by hormones or overactive kidneys, the latter is at least four different types of pancreas-related problems. They are named after the one thing they have in common: they both have excessive urination as one possible symptom.
    • Diabetes mellitus is often called "sugar" diabetes (presumably to distinguish it from diabetes insipidus, although the latter is less common so there's not much potential for confusion), but any sufferer knows that it's all carbohydrates that are the problem, not just sugar. Starchy carbs such as white bread are more harmful than sugar.
  • Magnetic Video originally started out as an audio duplication facility. The company wouldn't start duplicating videos until several years after its founding, though even before then founder Andre Blay wanted to start a home video venture.
  • In psychology and anthropology the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis suggests that language defines the limits of thought. Dr. Sapir and Dr. Whorf never worked together, nor did either of them propose such a hypothesis, probably because neither of them ever believed anything like that.
  • Anti-Semitism refers to prejudice towards ethnic Jews, but not all Semitic peoples are Jewish. Indeed, the single largest population of Semitic-speakers are Arabs, who (for very painful reasons) are among the most likely to be labeled "anti-Semites." Some prefer to write "antisemitism" in an attempt to remove this implication.
  • The Apollo space program sent men to the Moon, not the Sun. Presumably "Artemis program" didn't have the same macho ring to it.
  • Adobe Photoshop is commonly used to edit photos, and to create digital art. The latter was an unintended side effect though.
    • Illustrator is used by Illustrators and graphic designers.
    • Acrobat has nothing to do with the circus.
    • "Photoshopping" (although Adobe object to this term) is often done with other bitmap editors such as Paint Shop Pro.
    • Similarly, "Melbourne Draw" for the ZX Spectrum was a paint (bitmap-editor) program, not a draw (vector-image-editor) program. It was named after "Draw", the (demonstration of a) vector-image-editor program on the "Horizons" tape which came free with every Speccy.
  • Tardar Sauce, the real-life Grumpy Cat, actually has a nice demeanor in Real Life.
  • Chances are you have a credit card that belongs to HSBC, which stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The bank is British in origin and though it did used to have its headquarters in Hong Kong, it is now located in London. The current HSBC is the result of a merger between the original HSBC (which was a Hong Kong corporation) and the (British) Midland Bank, which as the name says was based in the Midlands, not London.
  • The video game company California Dreams was based in Poland.
  • The word "homophobia" means "hatred of homosexuals", not "fear of homosexuals", as its name might suggest. It's also worth noting that the Greek prefix "homo" actually means "same", not "homosexual"; the word should technically mean "fear of sameness" or "fear of one's own kind", the latter definition having some interesting implications.
  • The computer architecture Reduced Instruction Set Computing does not mean it has less instructions than Complex Instruction Set Computing (though it often does anyway), nor does it mean it doesn't include "complex" operations. The "reduced" part originally meant that the time it takes to do an instruction has been reduced. However, RISC processors often implement some operations, notably floating point and some math operations, that are actually more complicated or take longer than some CISC processors.
    • Even though modern ones include an FPU, the floating-point instructions of a CISC chip don't include "complex" instructions in the mathematical sense, that is, involving the square root of -1.
    • The Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) architecture isn't actually a really long, single instruction, but a culmination of multiple smaller instructions sent as a single unit.
    • A bit of a stretch, but graphics processing units do more than just process graphics. In fact, the world's most powerful supercomputer is made up of an array of computers with a single processor and multiple GPUs, and they don't produce any graphics at all (well, unless they're modeling something).
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease does not affect one's teeth, but one's feet. The "Tooth" refers to one Dr. Howard Tooth, one of the three doctors who discovered the disease.
  • Noon comes from a Latin word meaning "9th hour", supposedly since days started at around 3AM.
  • The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra, which states that every polynomial of degree n has exactly n complex roots (counting multiplicity), was named before the far more expansive field of abstract algebra was developed, and furthermore, cannot be proven using algebraic techniques alone. It is therefore neither fundamental, nor a theorem of algebra.
  • The word "literally" has been abused so much that many of the world's English dictionaries have accepted that it also means "you don't really mean it, you were just exaggerating/making a metaphor" (which is the opposite of the word's meaning).
    • Similarly, "hi-fi" has been abused so much (being applied to decidedly lo-fi equipment, and even to sound generators (such as musical instruments) which have no "fidelity" to qualify) that it now means nothing more than "this device makes some kind of sound".
      • Through similar abuse, "HD" is in danger of going the same way.
  • Television networks Global, Rede Globo, and Telemundo, whose transmitters only respectively reach Canada, Brazil, and the United States.note 
  • The kill command on most Unix operating systems does not simply kill processes; instead it can be used to send any signal to a process. Besides, the default signal sent when the corresponding parameter is ommited is SIGTERM (which instructs the process to close on its own) instead of SIGKILL (which forcibly terminates the process).note 
  • In all but the oldest versions of MS-DOS and Windows, COMMAND.COM is actually an .EXE and has its old name for backwards compatibility. The latest versions of Windows change the name to CMD.EXE.
  • British ISP Freeserve would more accurately have been called "ridiculously-expensive-serve"; although their advertising gave the impression (without actually stating) that they were "free" in the sense of "no cost at all", they were actually "free" in the sense of "no subscription charges" — they ran on the pay-as-you-go model, which (as is often the case) proved to be the most expensive way of doing it. One (subscription-based) rival proudly proclaimed itself to be "cheaper than free".
  • Sonic! Software Planning was a unit of Sega that developed the early Shining Force games but had nothing to do with any Sonic the Hedgehog games.
  • Several things conventionally described as red— flames, foxes, "red" hair— are more likely to be orange. The color name "orange" did not enter the English language until the 17th century; established locutions didn't change.
    • The eye colour described as "blue" is usually a light grey.
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