General Information (U-Z)

Uber cup
The uber cup is a
badminton tournament.

The ukulele is a four stringed, small

Ultramarine is a blue pigment derived from
lapis lazuli.

Ultrasonic is a term referring to
sound waves higher in frequency than 15khz.

Umber is a substance comprised of hydrated ferric and
manganese oxides with variable proportions of earthy matter. It is used as a brown pigment.

Umbra is the astrological term for the
shadow cast by a planet or satellite.

An umbrella is a
light, portable screen usually circular and supported on a central stick. They are used as protection against the sun, and rain.

An umiak (
umiaq) is an open Eskimo boat that consists of a wooden frame covered with skins and provided with several thwarts. They are used for transporting passengers and goods.

Umiaq is the
Inuit word for an umiak.

Undertaker Wind
The Undertaker Wind is a prevailing wind which blows out from the island of
Jamaica towards the sea during the night.

Undress Uniform
Undress Uniform is a military and naval term for a uniform worn other than on formal occasions.

Union Suit
union suit is a close-fitting, knitted undergarment combining a shirt and drawers in one piece and often have a drop seat.

United Nations
The United Nations is an international organisation for
peace and security.

The universe is all of space and its contents.

Upholstery is the art of covering the rigid frames of chairs, sofas, beds and other furniture with flexible material either naturally springy or made so by the introduction of
steel springs.

Uraemia is a condition of
blood poisoning which occurs when the kidneys fail to function properly, as in Bright's disease and fail to excrete urea which is retained in the blood and upsets the nervous system, causing drowsiness, headaches, giddiness and in extreme cases coma.

A uraeus was a representation of a sacred
asp worn on the headdress of ancient Egyptian royalty.

Uranium is a
radioactive metal element with the symbol U.

Urdu is a variety of the Hindustani language, from which it differs in its extensive borrowing of words from Arabic and Persian.

Urea is a crystalline substance, soluble in
water which occurs in the urine of mammals, birds and reptiles. It was produced artificially by Wohler in 1828 by evaporating an aqueous solution of ammonium cyanate. This was the first synthesis of an organic compound from inorganic materials.

Uric acid
acid is a nitrogen containing waste product found in the urine of birds and reptiles, but rarely mammals.

Urine is a fluid produced by the

Urotropine is a colourless, granular, crystalline substance prepared by the combination of
ammonia with formaldehyde, and used medicinally as a urinary antiseptic.

An usher is a person who escorts people to their seats in a theatre, church or other place.

Utopia is a
Greek word meaning "nowhere" and the name for an ideal community. It is the title of the book written in 1516 by Sir Thomas More in which he describes an island with perfect inhabitants and laws.

Uttering is the crime of knowing circulating counterfeit money with intent to defraud.

The V-band is the frequency band from 46,000 to 56,000
mhz employed in radar.

A vacuum is a space from which the gas has been removed.

A vacuum-flask is a double-walled vessel with the space between the two walls exhausted of
air as completely as possible. It was originally devised by Sir James Dewar for preserving liquefied gases at very low temperatures from evaporation. The nature of heat transference means that the substance contained in a vacuum-flask remains at its temperature for very much longer than if it were in an ordinary single walled vessel.

Valency is a term used by chemists to describe the combining ability of of an
element with respect to hydrogen.

Valeric acid
acid is a member of the series of fatty acids. It occurs in four isomeric varieties, two of which occur in plants such as valerian. It is an oily liquid with an odour like that of decayed cheese. Amyl and ethyl valerates are of importance in the preparation of fruit essences.

A valley is a long narrow depression in the
earth's crust, flanked by well defined ridges and usually due to the erosive action of rivers or glaciers but sometimes due to trough-faulting.

In electronics, a valve is a device consisting of two or more metal plates enclosed in an evacuated
glass bulb. One of the metal plates is heated, causing electrons to be emitted. If a positive charge is applied to the other plate, the electrons will move towards it and the valve will conduct electricity. Valves have largely been superseded by transistors which are smaller.

Van der Graaf Generator
Van der Graaf Generator is a machine for generating voltages in the order of a few megavolts for such applications as the production of high-energy X-rays and for nuclear research. The name was coined by a Seventies rock group.

Vanadium is a metal
element. Its symbol is V.

see "
Varicose Veins"

Varicose Veins
Varicose Veins is a condition of permanently dilated veins. It occurs mainly in the lower limbs, the lowest part of the
bowel (piles or haemorrhoids) or the spermatic cord (varicocele). The condition is caused by a hindrance of the flow of blood from the lower parts of the body to the heart.

see "

Vaseline is a propriety name for a jelly left on distillation of
petroleum. It is insoluble in water, and was originally used for damp proofing steel and in some ointments.

Vellum is a type of
superior parchment made from the skin of a calf, kid or lamb.

Velocity is the rate of motion, that is the rate of change of position of a body in a given direction within a measurement of time.

Velour is a pile fabric woven from woollen or
cotton yarns or from a mixture of these yarns. It is finished to present a raised, smooth, furry pile. The term is also applied to a material made from rabbit furs, largely employed in the manufacture of hats.

Velvet is a
textile fabric formed by interweaving silk threads to form a nap or pile. It was first manufactured in the 14th century and was introduced to Britain by Huguenots in 1685.

Velveteen is a
textile fabric formed by interweaving cotton threads to form a nap or pile. It is similar to velvet.

Veneer is a very thin piece of wood, like paper, used to cover other less valuable wood. The art of veneering was known to the ancient Egyptians and veneered furniture has been found from the 15th century

Venturi tube
A venturi tube is a device for measuring the flow of liquids in pipes.

Verdigris is a mixture of acetates of
copper used in making some green pigments. It forms on the surface of copper and brass when they are exposed to damp, and is highly poisonous.

Verjuice is the name given to the harsh juice of the unripe grapes used in
wine making.

Vermicelli is a worm-like thread form of pasta. The name derives from the
Latin, vermis 'a worm'.

Vermouth is an
alcoholic liqueur prepared from wine, sweetened with sugar and sometimes with bitter aromatic herbs added.

Verner's Law
Verner's Law is a linguistic law formulated in 1875 by Karl Verner of Copenhagen by which certain apparent failures of Grimm's Law are explained.

Veronal (diethyl-barbituric
acid or barbitone) is a white crystalline powder formerly used medicinally as a hypnotic to induce sleep.

A vesicant is a
counter-irritant which raises blisters - such as cantharides.

A vestry is a room attached to a
parish church where the vestments and ornaments are kept, and which is also used for parochial meetings.

A viaduct is a bridge carrying a road over another road, or a railway over a road.

Vinegar is a 4%
solution of acetic acid also containing small amounts of phosphates and other extractive matters. It is generally made by fermenting decoctions of malt, first with yeast, and then converting the alcohol into acetic acid by means of micro-organisms.

The violin is a family of stringed musical instruments.

The violoncello is a stringed musical instrument about twice the size of a
violin, and with sides deeper in proportion. It has four strings, tuned in fifths, its notes numbering from the highest string, being frequently tuned G, D, A, E.

see "

Virgo is a
sign of the zodiac represented by a virgin.

A virus is an infectious particle consisting of a
core of nucleic acids enclosed in a protein shell.

Viscose is a yellowish, syrupy
solution made by treating cellulose with sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide. The solution is then regenerated as continuous filament for the making of rayon and as cellophane.

Vitamins are chemical substances which are used by
animal bodies for growth and repair of certain tissues and cells. They were first named by Dr. Casimir Funk in 1912.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A (carotene) occurs in certain fats and the fatty parts of some foods. It is used by the
human body to enable the eyes to perceive light, and to promote growth in children and to protect moist areas of the body such as the lining of the respiratory tract.

Vitamin B
Vitamin B refers to a group of over eleven vitamins. Including
Thiamine, Riboflavin, Nicotinic Acid, Pyridoxine, Pantothenic acid, biotin and other substances.

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobolamin) is a deep-red crystalline, water-soluble solid found in liver, milk, eggs and fish. A deficiency can result in disorders of the nervous system and anaemia.

Vitamin B2
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is a vitamin essential for growth. It was formerly known as vitamin G.

Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid, niacin) is a crystalline acid found in meat and yeast and produced by the oxidation of nicotine.

Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a substance found in cereals, fish and meat and used by the body to produce haemoglobin.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C (ascorbic
acid) is used by animal bodies for the production of the immune system, and maintenance of the skin and other cells. Vitamin C occurs almost exclusively in vegetable matter, and is destroyed by heat.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D (Calciferol) is a substance which assists
animal bodies to lay down calcium and phosphorus in bones. Vitamin D is mainly found in animal matter, and can also be produced by the body from sunlight.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is a pale-yellow, viscous fluid found in vegetable oil, eggs, cereals and butter and used in the body as an anti-oxidant and to maintain cell membranes.

Vitamin G
Vitamin G is a former name for riboflavin.

Vitamin H
Vitamin H (biotin) is a crystalline, water-soluble vitamin of the Vitamin B group. It is present in all living cells and is used as a growth factor and a catalyst in carboxylation.

Vitreous Enamel
Vitreous Enamel is an opaque or transparent glaze, generally coloured, which adheres to a suitable mettalic surface when applied in a liquid state.

Vivisection is the
dissection of living subjects. It was first practised on human subjects in 300 BC by Herophilus, and until 1570 criminals were vivisected at Pisa. The practise is still carried out on animals, and there is much controversy over its moral and scientific value in areas of research such as testing drugs, surgical practises and testing cosmetic products. The enforced chain smoking by Beagle dogs led to the belief of smoking causing cancer in humans.

VK, B-Cillin K
VK, B-cillin K is a drug used to treat mild to moderate systemic
infections. It has the possible side effects of:
stomach distress,
vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and hypersensitivity (rash, itching, chills,
fever, swelling)

Vodka is an
alcoholic beverage distilled from rye, potatoes, maize or barley.

Volapuk is a
universal language invented by Johann Schleyer in 1879. It was generally superseded by Esperanto.

Volatile Oil
see "
Essential Oil"

A volcano is a vent in the
earth's crust.

A volcano is a vent in the
earth's crust from which molten rock, ashes and steam are ejected. The lava tends in time to heap up a conical eminence round the vent, thus forming the crater or cup.

The volt is the unit of electromotive force. It was named after Alessandro

A voltmeter is an instrument for measuring electro-motive force, or pressure in volts.

Voodoo is a form of magic.

A wadi is an
irrigation canal found in Arab countries.

A wake is the practice of watching round a corpse before it is buried.

Walker cup
The Walker cup is an international
golf tournament.

The waltz is a
dance of uncertain origins. It was introduced into France from Germany in 1795 and reached England in 1812.

Warp threads are the parallel threads which
traverse a loom from end to end.

Water is a liquid
oxide of hydrogen.

Water table
The water table is the level of ground below which the rocks are saturated with

Watergate was a political scandal in the
USA resulting in the resignation of president Nixon in 1974.

Watling Street
Street is the old name for the Roman road from Dover to London, and from London through St. Albans to Shrewsbury and Chester.

Watlingstreet was a British
Roman road extending from Dover, through London, St. Albans, Dunstable and Towcester into north Whales with a branch extending to Scotland.

Wax is a
solid fatty substance.

Weaving is the art of interlacing
yarn threads or other filaments by means of a loom, so as to form a web of cloth or other woven fabric. Two sets of threads are used which traverse the web at right angles to each other. The first set extends from end to end of the web in parallel lines and is called the warp; while the other set of threads crosses and interlaces with the warp from side to side of the web and is called the weft.

Wednesday is the third
day of the week.

Weft are threads crossing from side to side of a web and interwoven with

Welding is the process of joining two pieces of metal together by hammering, pressure or fusion.

Weregild was the Anglo-Saxon money-value of a man's life. It varied in amount and had to be paid by a murderer to the murdered man's relatives.

Whisky is an
alcoholic beverage made from malted barley.

White dwarf
A white dwarf is small hot

Whitley Councils
Whitley Councils were industrial committees set up in the early part of the 20th century in Britain to enable employers and employees to discuss problems of mutual interest with a view towards avoiding strikes and lockouts. Neither side was keen to make use of them, and they were abandoned in the late 1920s. Today a similar service is provided by conciliation in the form of ACAS.

A wig is a covering for the head made from natural or artificial hair attached to a foundation so as to imitate a natural head covering.

Wightman cup
The Wightman cup is a
tennis tournament.

Will-o'-the-wisp (Ignis Fatuus) is a pale flickering flame sometimes seen over marshes.

A winch is a machine, the essential part of which consists of a drum driven by
hand or powered through gearing, and used to receive a rope which is wound upon it.

A windmill is a machine for grinding corn, pumping
water etc., deriving its power from the pressure of the wind on its sails.

Window Tax
The Window Tax was an additional taxation levied in
England in proportion to the number of windows in a house. It was first levied in 1695 and abolished in 1851. To avoid the tax many people bricked up some of their windows.

Wine is the fermented juice of grapes.

Wolfram is another name for the
element tungsten.

Wolframite is the most important
tungsten ore. It has a relative hardness of 5.

Wood pitch
Wood pitch is a by-product of charcoal manufacture, made from wood tar, the condensed liquid produced from burning charcoal gases. The wood tar is boiled to produce the correct consistency. It has been used since ancient times for filling in the spaces between the hull planks in wooden ships to make them watertight.

Wood's Metal
Wood's metal is a fusible alloy consisting of 50 per cent bismuth, 25 percent lead, 12.5 per cent tin and 12.5 per cent cadmium.

A woodwind instrument is one with which
sound is produced by blowing into a tube.

Wool is the fibrous covering of

Wrestling is a form of combat contest between two opponents in which the object is to grapple the opponent to the floor.

A wynd is a narrow
street or passage off a main thoroughfare.

The X-band is the frequency band from 5200 to 10,900
mhz employed in radar.

Xanthoma is a
skin disease characterised by irregular yellowish patches on the eyelids and neck.

Xenon is a rare, inert
gaseous element. It's symbol is Xe.

The xylophone is a percussion musical instrument.

A yacht is a
light sailing vessel built for racing.

Yagi Aerial
A Yagi
aerial is a particular form of directive, end-fire aerial array in which the director and reflector elements are parasitically excited. Most television aerials are of this type.

Yapp is a type of bookbinding of limp
leather with overlapping edges. It was first made for Yapp, a London bookseller in 1860, hence the name.

The yard is a unit of the imperial scale of measurement of length equivalent to 3 FEET, 36 inches or 0.9144 metres.

see "

Yarn is a fibre, such as
cotton, wool, silk or flax which has been spun and prepared for use in weaving or knitting.

A yawl is a two-masted sailing
ship. The aftermast is much smaller than the mainmast and is placed far aft.

A yearling is a one-year old
animal. The term is generally applied to sheep, calves and foals.

Yolk is a food store found in

Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur (
Day of Atonement) is the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar, occurring always on Tishri 10th, corresponding with the end of September. It is a full fast day of 24 hours, observed from sunset to star-rise of the following day, in which neither food nor drink is taken, in accordance with Biblical command. It was observed in ancient times by an elaborate sacrificial ritual, in which the High Priest, representing the whole of Israel, interceded for Divine Pardon.

Ytterbium is a metal
element with the symbol Yb.

Yttrium is a metal
element with the symbol Y.

Zinc is a metal
element with the symbol Zn.

Zirconium is a lustrous, greyish-white, strong, ductile, metallic
element, with the symbol Zr. It occurs in nature as the mineral zircon (zirconium silicate), from which it is obtained commercially. It is used in some ceramics, alloys for wire and filaments, steel manufacture, and nuclear reactors, where its low neutron absorption is advantageous.

The zither is an Austrian musical instrument.

The zodiac is the name given by the
Greeks to the heavens.

Zwitterion is an
ion that has both a positive and a negative charge, such as an amino acid in neutral solution.

Zymase is an
enzyme formed in yeast cells which converts sugar into alcohol and carbonic acid gas.