I’m extremely excited to announce that after about eight months of working on it, TIFO’s first book is now published: The Wise Book of Whys featuring 100 different topics such as "Why New York is Called 'The Big Apple'" and "Why We Sing 'Auld Lang Syne' on New Year's ’Eve", along with many an interesting Bonus Fact to go with the main topics.

You can pick up the print or e-book version of the book here: print | Kindle.  (It should very shortly be available on the Nook as well.) The audiobook version, read by talented British voice artist Simon Whistler, can be purchased here, featuring five hours of audio for just $5.

Please let me know what you think of the book!  This ended up being far more work than anticipated, but I’m really pleased with how the book turned out. In my humble opinion, it’s the best thing TIFO’s produced so far. I really hope you enjoy it and consider giving it as a gift to any of your trivia loving friends. :-)  

Without further ado, here's a little preview of the The Wise Book of Whys in today's topic which I pulled from the book for your reading pleasure. :-) -Daven Hiskey


The practice of saying “o’clock” is a remnant of simpler times when clocks weren’t very prevalent and people told time by a variety of means, depending on where they were and what references were available.

Generally, of course, the Sun was used as a reference point, with solar time being slightly different than clock time. Clocks divide the time evenly, whereas, by solar time, hour lengths vary somewhat based on a variety of factors, like what season it is.

Thus, to distinguish the fact that one was referencing a clock’s time, rather than something like a sundial, as early as the fourteenth century one would say something like, “It is six of the clock,” which later got slurred down to “six o’clock” sometime around the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. In those centuries, it was also somewhat common to just drop the “o’” altogether and say something like “six clock.”

Using the form of “o’clock” particularly increased in popularity around the eighteenth century when it became common to do a similar slurring in the names of many things such as “Will-o’-the wisp” from “Will of the wisp” (stemming from a legend of an evil blacksmith named Will Smith, with “wisp” meaning “torch”) and “Jack-o’-lantern” from “Jack of the lantern” (which originally just meant “man of the lantern” with “Jack,” at the time, being the generic “any man” name. Later, either this or the Irish legend of “Stingy Jack” got this name transferred to referring to carved pumpkins with lit candles inside).

While today, with clocks being ubiquitous and few telling direct time by the Sun, it isn’t necessary in most cases to specify we are referencing time from clocks, the practice of saying “o’clock” has stuck around anyway.

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Bonus Fact:

  • The word “clock” is thought to have originally derived from the Medieval Latin “clocca,” meaning “bell,” referencing the ringing of the bells on early town clocks, which would let everyone in a community know what time it was.

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