Which is the largest state (in area), and which is the smallest?

Alaska, the northernmost and westernmost state of the United States, is the largest state of the Union, covering 571,951 square miles (more than 1.4 million square kilometers). It makes up the extreme northwestern region of the North American continent and is separated from Asia by the 51-mile- (82-kilometer-) wide Bering Strait. Alaska has been a part of the United States since 1867, when it was bought from Russia by Secretary of State William H.

Seward for $7.2 million. The smallest state is Rhode Island, which covers just 1,045 square miles (2,706 square kilometers). Rhode Island—officially named the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations—was the first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule (on May 4, 1776) and the last to ratify the United States Constitution (on May 29, 1790).

Why are the secondary consequences of a greater event called the “aftermath”?

The chain of events set in motion by a major occurrence is often called an aftermath. Math is from an old English word meaning “to mow.” The second, smaller crop of hay that sometimes springs up after a field has been mowed is called the aftermath, or “after mowing,” and although it is next to useless, it is a problem that has to be dealt with for the good of the fields.

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Are the terms “gnat’s eye” and “hair’s breadth” true units of measure?

Yes, but both are slang units of distance and diameter. The eyes of typical gnats tend to have diameters similar in size to a hair’s breadth—roughly 100–150 micrometers. An item would have to be very short in order to be gnat’s eye in length! A hair’s breadth is an informal unit of distance: it is used to denote a measurement of approximately 70 to 100 micrometers in diameter, or 0.1 millimeter, which is similar in thickness to real human hair.

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How did pumpernickel bread get its name?

During the winter of 1812, while Napoleon’s army was retreating from Russia, the only available food was stale, dark bread. Although his men were dying from hunger, Napoleon ensured that his great white horse, Nicholl, always had enough to eat, which caused the soldiers to grumble that although they were starving there was always enough “pain pour Nicholl,” or “bread for Nicholl.” When anglicized, “pain pour Nicholl” became “pumpernickel.”

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Why do Mexicans call Americans “gringos”?

Some say that during the Mexican-American war at the end of the nineteenth century, locals heard the invaders singing “Green Grow the Lilacs” and simply picked up “gringo” from “green grow.” Others say that because the American uniforms were green, the expression came from a rallying cry: “Green, go!” But, in fact, gringo is a Spanish word on its own and is a slang insult for anyone who is fair-skinned and looks foreign.

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Why do we say someone diverted from a goal has been “sidetracked”?

Early railroads had only a single track between destinations. Problems arose when a train was met by another going in the opposite direction or was about to be overtaken by a faster one. This dilemma was solved with the creation of sidings, short lengths of track built parallel to the main line where one train could pull over while the other went by. The train had been “sidetracked,” meaning that, for a time at least, it wasn’t going anywhere.

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Why does the letter K signify a strikeout on a baseball scoresheet?

Early in baseball history, a man named Henry Chadwick designed the system we still use for keeping score. Because his system already had an overabundance of Ss scattered throughout his scoresheet — safe, slide, shortstop, sacrifice, second base, etc. — he decided to use the last letter of struck, as in, “he struck out,” rather than the first. And that’s why K signifies a strikeout in baseball.

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Why do we say “justice is blind”?

The Egyptian pharaohs, concerned that courtroom theatrics might influence the administration of justice, established the practice of holding trials in darkened chambers with absolutely no light. That way, the judge wouldn’t be moved by anything but the facts. It’s this principle that inspired Lady Justice, the well-known statue of a woman in a blindfold holding the scales of justice that is often found outside contemporary courtrooms.

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