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Welcome to ...
Five Questions, One Answer #020

Q1: Back in 1486, if you had 18 shillings Scots, what recently issued Scottish coin could you trade them in for?   

Q2: From 2002 to 2015, the French Armed Forces had a peacekeeping operation stationed in Côte d'Ivoire, for most of that time in support of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire. What (en anglais) was the name of that peacekeeping operation?  

Q3:  In 2013, Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures identified 39 members of what club, including Fab.com, FireEye, Nicira, HomeAway, and Palo Alto Networks?

Q4: Lady Amalthea, voiced by Mia Farrow in an 1982 movie, was the alter ego of what character, who was disguised to escape the notice of the Red Bull?

Q5: If the 17th century had sex advice columnists, what slang term might ye olde Daniel Savage use to describe a cuckold? Here in the 21st century, Dan Savage sometimes uses the same term to describe a bi girl willing to be a couple's third in a sexual encounter.

Take a minute to concentrate 🤔

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"Deep Thought," by Dave Parker, from Flickr via Wikimedia.
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Today, it's up to 312. (Where'd the surge come from? I'll tell you in the End Notes.) Woo! 200+ by New Year's! 

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Unicorn.
This week's answer is unicorn

A1: James III of Scotland introduced the unicorn ca. 1485, and it was produced for about 40 years total. By the time it was phased out it was worth 22 shillings Scots.

Both sides of a gold unicorn coin from 15th century Scotland.

Get an up-close look at a unicorn via the British Museum

Archaic Wonder digs into some of the details (like the Latin) and the life of James III.

Why "unicorn"? Well, it's the national beast of Scotland.

A2: En français, it's Opération Licorne, which translates to Operation Unicorn in English. As is often the way with peacekeeping missions, Operation Unicorn has been involved in armed conflict, destroying the Ivoirian air force in 2004 clashes.

Apparently the Ivoirian government would strongly prefer that everyone call them Côte d'Ivoire and not Ivory Coast, but many major English-language publications use the latter. Which makes a certain amount of sense — they similarly use Germany and Ireland rather than Deutschland and Éire. Diplomatic channels, however, usually go with Côte d'Ivoire. More diplomatic.

A3: Lee introduced the world to the Unicorn Club in an article on TechCrunch, and since then startups worth a billion dollars or more have been called unicorns. 

Linguist Ben Zimmer wrote about the slangification of "unicorn" last year. (If that link is paywalled, google Ben Zimmer unicorn.)

Also: It's hard to believe Fab had a billion-dollar valuation just three years ago. 

A4: The movie is The Last Unicorn, and the title character's name (when she's a unicorn) is indeed Unicorn. Other cast members: Alan Arkin as the wizard who turns her into a human, Jeff Bridges as the prince who falls in love with Amalthea, Angela Lansbury as a carnival owner, Christopher Lee as a dysthymic king, and Robert Klein as a butterfly. (!!)

Trailer for The Last Unicorn
Based on the Peter S. Beagle novel, of course, which I just found out has a sequel. 

For this question, I was hoping to list several famous people who'd voiced unicorns in movies or TV, but aside from Unicorn and Twilight Sparkle (and a few of her pals), there are surprisingly few talking unicorns in film history.
 
A5: If you read Zimmer's article, above, you might've noticed that he didn't cover the sexual sense of the term in the Wall Street Journal. But of course the origin is similar — just like a company worth a billion dollars is theoretically rare, so is a bi girl willing to join an established couple for sexual hijinks. 

On Twitter, Zimmer noted that Savage popularized this existing sense of unicorn around 2012, before the business sense. (Note that unlike "monogamish" or "GGG," Savage did not coin this sense of "unicorn," but he boosted its popularity.)

Green's [indispensible] Dictionary of Slang notes the earlier, cuckold sense of "unicorn," as does the OED. 

Want more polyamory slang? More Than Two has a good list.
End Notes

How was the difficulty this week?
Too easy
Too hard

About right

Wikipedia disambiguates a number of other unicorns

Many thanks to longtime reader Deb Chachra for mentioning 5Q1A in her fantastic newsletter Metafoundry. It was a nice surprise and a solid end-of-year subscriber bump. 5Q1A newsletter goes broad and shallow; Deb digs in deeper to thinkier topics. I've read Metafoundry for a long time, and always love seeing it in my inbox. (She's also put up with my questions going back to my days as a pub quiz host in Seattle.) 

FYI: Today's email teaser quote is from Tyrannosaurus Rex's song "She Was Born to Be My Unicorn," from their album Unicorn. (This is T. Rex in 1969, before they abbreviated.)

Your obt. qzmr.,

James
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Cover for Hergé's "Les aventures de Tintin: Le secret de la Licorne"