A Brief History
On May 25, 1521, the Diet of Worms ended, resulting in the Edict of Worms which declared Martin Luther an outlaw. Not only was this “Diet” not related to what people eat or do not eat, the “Worms” portion of the title has nothing to do with the slimy critters we use as fish bait. Today we discuss 5 titles, names, or things that are just not what they seem to be at first glance.
1. Diet of Worms, 1521.
In this case the word “Diet” refers to an assembly of religious leaders gathered in “Worms,” a city in Germany under the direction of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V to review the case against Church rebel Martin Luther. In fact, there have been 6 other Diets of Worms held in that city, though History refers to the 1521 edition when the name is invoked. The Edict of Worms that was issued is basically a finding of guilty for Martin Luther of heresy against the Catholic Church, and an order forbidding any other Catholics from agreeing with Luther’s opinions and ideas, or for giving him asylum. In spite of the threat by the Emperor, Prince Frederick hid Luther from imminent arrest.
2. Intercourse, Pennsylvania.
Originally the town of Cross Keys, Pennsylvania, the name was changed to Intercourse in 1814, and the new name did not have and does not now have anything to do with sexual intercourse. In fact, the real reason for the name change is disputed, but probably has something to do with the town being built on an important road intersection. Or perhaps the name is a nod to the fellowship and interaction (“intercourse”) between the congenial residents. We think it may have been based on the original name somehow, but we do not know. Either way, the double entendre generated by the name has resulted in many tourists having their pictures taken by the city sign and the city signs being regularly stolen.
3. Military Intelligence.
A common joke is to claim that the term “military intelligence” is an oxymoron, and that the two words are incompatible when used together. In reality, military intelligence has nothing to do with anyone’s smarts or “intelligence,” IQ, or any other measure of how good they are at problem solving. It really means information about the enemy and the terrain the military unit has to face. Hey, I was a US Marine Corps intelligence officer (Military Occupational Specialty 0202) and I’m smart… right?
4. College of Cardinals.
Not a school of higher learning for bright red birds, but the collective membership of priests of the rank of Cardinal in the Catholic Church. Current membership in this exclusive club is 213, and ordinarily only death or election to the Papacy is how Cardinals leave the “College.” (Sometimes a member has been forced out or retires, but rarely.) This group of high ranking Church officials are the only people allowed to vote on a new Pope when the reigning Pope dies (or in the case of Pope Benedict XVI, retires). The name, Cardinal, comes from the Latin word for “hinge,” perhaps because of the Church “hinging” on the guidance of the Cardinals? We really do not know. As for the “College” part of the title, college does not refer to an institution of higher learning but instead as a group of professionals organized toward a common purpose.
5. Green Card.
If you are not a recent immigrant to the United States or a permanent legal alien resident of the US, you might think a “green card” giving an immigrant legitimate status to be here is actually a green card. Well, they used to be, from 1946 until 1964. The ID cards now called “United States Permanent Resident Card (USCIS Form I-551)” were changed back to a sort of green color in 2010, but if you look at one now you will see they are not really green. A person challenging someone believed to be an illegal alien better know what the actual card looks like or a misunderstanding could easily occur. The cards currently issued are a sort of multi-colored plastic, pastel ID card similar to a drivers license or military ID.
Question for students (and subscribers): What would you add to the list? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Klingel, Cynthia. Break a Leg! (And Other Odd Things We Say) (Sayings and Phrases). The Childs World Inc, 2009.
Renegades (Quilting Group). Oxymorons: Absurdly Logical Quilts. Amer Quilters Society, 2000.