There are two reasons this post came about: first, because of one of the facts below that I learned at the Lists exhibit at the Morgan Library about a month or two ago. Second, and more importantly, because in virtually every alphabetical list, the letter “x” is presented with the word “x-ray.” Hell, even the NATO phonetic alphabet uses “x-ray” for the letter “x.” (At that rate, why don’t you just say “x”? The letter “x” is the only part of “x-ray” that particularly matters in that instance! Ughhhh….) Needless to say, that always leaves me a little perturbed. So instead, here are five things you can use in place of the word “x-ray” and a little bit of information about them:
- Xenurine is an alternate name for a cabassou – which is in turn an alternate name for an armadillo. Cabassous is the genus for “naked-tail” armadillos, which lends credence to the etymology of xenurine – Greek for “strange tail.”
- XI is not just the Roman numeral for 11, but is also a Greek letter and an acceptable two-letter word in Scrabble. Other two-letter words using tough tiles accepted in Scrabble include “qi” (a Chinese word meaning “vital energy needed in battle”) and “za” (a shortening of “pizza.”)
- X is the first call letter for all Mexican radio stations, which is in turn divided into XE and XH for AM and FM, respectively (XH is also often used for TV stations). In Major League Baseball, the San Diego Padres’ English and Spanish radio stations are Mexican stations – so-called “border blasters,” which emanate from Mexico (specifically Tijuana) but have a high enough wattage to be heard in San Diego and elsewhere in Southern California.
- In the Harry Potter universe, Xenophilius Lovegood was responsible for the publication of The Quibbler, which sort of served as the National Enquirer to The Daily Prophet‘s more upstanding, heralded culture (with the exception of Rita Skeeter, who is closer to the Perez Hilton of the wizarding world). Filled with stories of (most likely fictional) creatures and stories of cryptozoology, it makes sense that ol’ Xeno was given his first name by J.K. Rowling; “xenophilia” literally means “love of strange things” in Greek.