Sandra Cunningham/ShutterstockQuick! Try naming five words that start with the letter L. Lollipop, lazy, long, Labrador, like, language…and the list goes on and on. Now, try naming five words that start with the letter X. Xylophone, X-ray…not so easy, right? For another challenge, see if you can guess the one letter that isn’t in any U.S. state name.
Still racking your brain for more words that start with an X? You might want to stop because the Oxford English Dictionary only lists a mere 400 words that begin with the letter X. Here are a few more words to complete your list of five: xenization, xenagogy, xenial. But we wouldn’t expect people to know those off the top of their head because it’s a lot easier to show a xylophone on an ABC placemat for kindergarteners than xenization—which means the act of traveling as a stranger.
In fact, in Noah Webster’s Compendious Dictionary, which he published in 1806, there was only one word listed under the letter X: xebec, defined as “a small three-masted vessel in the Mediterranean.” In 1828, when he put together his American Dictionary, that number had only risen to 13. The number of words starting with the letter X continued to rise until it reached the 400 that we have today.
Next, see if you can guess the most common letter in the English language.