Same Same but Different – Things We Think are the Same but Aren’t

by | Sep 1, 2022

Sweet potato on the left, Yam on the right

Today’s IFOD is authored by my friend and colleague, Klaire Whiteside. I think it’s super interesting!

One of the many perks of working at St. Louis Trust & Family Office is FREE SNACKS. Earlier today as I enjoyed a company-provided citrus fruit I called a clementine, a coworker referred to it as a tangerine. Was one of us right and the other wrong, or are clementines and tangerines the same? A quick google search revealed tangerines and clementines are both hybrids of the mandarin fruit, but they are different. Tangerines have darker, more reddish skin and feel pebbly to the touch. Clementines are slightly smaller and oval in shape with a flat spot on the top and bottom. The skin of a clementine is also smoother and thinner, making them easier to peel than tangerines.

Here are some other things many people think are the same but aren’t:

  • Frog and Toad

Toads are a sub-classification of frogs – all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads. Toads have shorter hind legs used for walking instead of hopping. Toads also have warty skin and usually prefer dryer climates.

  • Great Britain and the United Kingdom

Great Britain is a geographic term referring to the British island made up of England, Scotland, and Wales. United Kingdom is a political term and includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

  • Hay and Straw

Hay is a crop that is grown and harvested as a feed for cattle and other farm animals. Straw is a byproduct of a grain crop (often wheat) and is used for animal bedding, mulch, or compost.

  • Sphinx and Sphynx

A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. It is found in the ancient mythology and art of Egypt, Greece, and Southeast Asia. A sphynx is a hairless cat that originated in Canada in the 1960s from a naturally occurring genetic mutation.

  • Autobiography and Memoir

An autobiography is the story of a person’s entire life. A memoir is collection of memories, usually only about a part of a person’s life.

  • Yam and Sweet Potato

First, neither sweet potatoes nor yams are even potatoes. Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family, and yams are related to grasses. Neither are nightshades (which potatoes are). True Yams are African root vegetables that are not usually very sweet. Yam skin is darker brown with a rough texture, while the inside is often white but can be yellow, orange, or purple. The U.S. Department of Agriculture fuels the confusion by requiring labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato’. But unless you’re seeking out yams in an international grocery store, you’re probably eating sweet potatoes.

In closing, here’s an interesting fact on the title: “Same Same but Different” is a Southeast Asian phrase that means similar but different. Its exact origins are unknown but has become a popular Tinglish (Thai-English) phrase in tourism-heavy parts of Thailand. The intentional vagueness the phrase conveys is sometimes viewed as a reflection of the laid-back Thai culture. Things can be fundamentally different with enough similarities that the resulting attitude is “who cares?”


  1. Doppelgängers Luv2Nap

  2. A Klaire IFOD and one by John

  3. Super and Dinner

  4. Stuffing and Dressing.

  5. thanks John — during several Philosophy- Neuroscience-Psychology courses at WUSTL – this issue of sameness was often a core issue as scientists routinely declare things the “same” based on some surface level of similarity. Developing a taxonomy of sameness was challenging but a wonderful way to re-examine assumptions.

  6. A great addition to the IFOD canon. Well done Klaire!

  7. Nice job, Klaire!!

  8. Interesting IFOD. Another good one is the difference between their, they’re, and there.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Subscribe To The IFOD

Get the Interesting Fact of the Day delivered twice a week. Plus, sign up today and get Chapter 2 of John's book The Uncertainty Solution to not only Think Better, but Live Better. Don't miss a single post!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This
%d bloggers like this: