People Share Ludicrous Stories About The Terrible Gifts They’ve Received

Phillip Hamilton

Sometimes a bad gift can make you want to just scream! But that wouldn’t be very festive, now, would it? These Redditors have received some of the worst gifts of all time, from Christmases to birthdays and beyond. How they managed to keep it together is a testament to the strength of human beings during the holidays. Here are 42 of the worst gifts ever received by Redditors.

1. Hogan Rides Again

A rubber Hulk Hogan figurine (it looked like it was a Christmas ornament with the loop snipped off) glued to a very effeminate toy horse. An elderly friend of the family gave it to me and wouldn’t stop mentioning how “they are supposed to look like that; that’s how it came from the store” even though I didn’t voice any doubts.

It’s also kind of the best gift I ever got.


2. Regifted & Reusable

My mother gave me a book for Christmas…that I gave to her for her birthday a year before. She acted as though she purchased it for me. I wrote a note in it to her, so I know it was the copy I gave to her. Also, my mother-in-law gave me a box of plastic forks for Christmas last year. I’m chalking that one up to dementia.


3. Knowledge is Power

My sister received a brand new bike…on MY birthday. My grandmother felt bad, so on her birthday, she got me an encyclopedia.


4. Stolen Cards

My uncle gave me an Xbox Live points card for my birthday. When I went to redeem it, it said card not activated. This happened two years in a row until my mom told him about it.


5. Maybe Keep it a Secret Next Time, Santa

Secret Santa 2008: The “minimum” for the Secret Santa was $50. His list of ideas had leather gloves, a knit beanie, gift cards, a cell phone case, and cologne (but specifically NOT one particular brand). I bought him a pair of leather gloves, an X-men beanie (he was a comic book fan), and a bottle of cologne that was not the brand he disliked, but I put it inside a box of the brand he didn’t like just as a fake-out for fun.

The person whose name I drew in the Secret Santa just so happened to be the one who had drawn my name. I got an unwrapped and clearly used (but empty) dollar store flask with a cheap gumball machine sticker of a tiger (??) stuck on it…Yeah, that was the last time I participated in a secret Santa gift exchange.


6. A Hard Scrub

For Christmas, my aunt (Aunt one) gave me and my sister liquid soap that had already solidified. She’s known for being “thrifty” and re-giving old gifts. Aunt two gave Aunt one’s son a shirt for his birthday. After a few years, Aunt one gifted the shirt to Aunt two’s son.


7. The Conception Dress

My mother-in-law pulled out a box in which there was a fire engine red nightgown and said in front of the family, “This is what you’ll wear when you conceive a son.” Yep.


8. Mamma Mia That’s Bad

My girlfriend asked me if I wanted to see Mamma Mia. I said no. A few months later I got Mamma Mia tickets for my birthday.


9. A Hairy Memento

My husband received his recently deceased grandfather’s used disposable razor as a Christmas gift from his grandmother. Complete with hair and all.


10. No Gifts… For You, at Least

One year money was tight, real tight. I was in my mid-teens when my mum took me aside and explained that I would not be receiving a birthday present that year. My inner child screamed, but me, wanting to show how much of a man I had grown to be, just nodded and smiled and thanked my mum anyway. The day came, and as forewarned, there was no present.

It hurt but I was determined to be a man about it. Two days later I was in the kitchen and I noticed a shopping bag on the bench. Being a curious person, I had a look to see what was inside. Inside that bag the largest amount of marijuana I had ever seen in one place. I knew Mum and her boyfriend smoked it. Screw you, Mum.

It is completely possible that she did buy the large amount to sell on, but I don’t recall them selling at that point. I became aware of them selling a few years later when all of a sudden we started getting a lot of visitors but no one ever seemed to stay that long. This being said, my mother smoked every other day and her boyfriend smoked every night, so they would have gone through a fair bit.


11. The Birthday Tree

My birthday is close to Christmas and I’ve always disliked that fact, so my family gave me a Christmas tree for my birthday.


12. Were They Alf Pogs?

One year on my birthday I got $15 cash from my parents. They said it was so I could buy Pogs. We then went to a store where my dad said the Pogs were a good price. I went in and bought the only kind they had, and apparently, they were expensive. My parents then scolded me for “spending all $15 on only this many?” My dad was the one that said the price was good at this store.

I ended up feeling really guilty because I assumed we were hard up for money and I wasted $15. My brother’s birthday is exactly two months after mine. He had a party with a lot of friends over, and my dad bought him a $25 Nerf toy. This was over 20 years ago, but still hurts my feelings.


13. For All the Mining You Do

I was spending Christmas with my wife’s family for the first time and wife’s uncle/aunt/cousin’s gift for me was a baseball cap for use in the mining industry. It had a built-in plastic shell in the cloth lining which made it really uncomfortable and non-adjustable. It was also about four or five years old and very clearly used.

The edges were fraying, and the plastic was cracked in one spot. Same family got my wife a marble clock that weighed a ton and didn’t work. We were flying back the next day with carry-on only luggage.


14. Bad Gifts, Good Memories

My husband got two rolls of pennies from my Grandma for Christmas. That same year she gave my mom, a nonsmoker, a tin of tobacco. When my mom complained, she gave her a calendar that was three years old. My son got a hairbrush wrapped in a Pringles can. He was two and cried because he really wanted the chips…Haha. I hit the jackpot though; I got a bottle of vodka.

She always gave us weird gifts. It was her thing. Now that she’s gone, I miss seeing what Christmas gifts she would be bringing. It was a good laugh.


15. The Return of the Sweater

Not me, but I had an OG for a teacher in high school. We called him Mr. T (had a long T name) and he was a legend because he sounded like the boring teacher in Ferris Bueller and kept a bat in his filing cabinet (just in case). Anyway, Mr. T always wore these weird, colorful, (kinda) ugly sweaters and shirts. So, this goofball in our class decided to give him a gift during class for Christmas.

Mr. T, being a champ, opens it mid-class and just bursts out laughing. It’s an ugly shirt. When Mr. T stopped laughing, he asked if he got the shirt at Goodwill (a second-hand donation store). Clown confirms that he did. Mr. T tells us that it was actually his shirt that he had disliked and donated. He got a good laugh out of it.


16. Bounceless Ball

The only present I got for Christmas that year was a little light-up ball. You put your finger on the two metal tabs (or you and someone else, while holding other hands) and the ball lights up. It wasn’t awful, but it was underwhelming. After I had figured out what it was and how it worked and trying it with a few people, dad asks me if he can have a try and so I say sure. I pass him the ball and he immediately throws it on the ground, hard enough to break it.

“I thought it was a bouncy ball!” Some people…


17. A Little Underwhelming

When I was really little, my family was super poor. Most gift-giving occasions, my mom would make me and my older sister toys or clothes, and birthdays we always got our cake as a gift. I remember one year my family was particularly down and out, and we didn’t get Christmas presents from our parents, but this one gleaning service we volunteered at in exchange for food, they gave me and my older sister each a toy and a new coat. I got a plastic bubblegum machine and thought it was super cool.

Just a little back story to show my “high” expectations. A few years later, my dad finished school and through a series of amazingly lucky promotions through his new job, we actually had some money. My mom’s extended family had a gift exchange as they always did, but until then we hadn’t the money to participate, so I was really excited to do some odd jobs around the house to earn the money to buy my exchange a gift.

$20-$30 was the price range. I picked up cigarette butts around the yard for a penny each, washed my dad’s car inside and out to $5. I cleaned the garage, washed windows, all in addition to my normal chores. Also, I was seven. I finally saved up $35. I wanted to go above and beyond because I was a kid and I really wanted to surprise my cousin (25 at the time) with my thoughtfulness.

So, I bought her a fancy box of candies, a nice scented candle in a smell that her boyfriend said she liked, and I got her a nice makeup set. My aunt worked for Shiseido, so she let me use her discount and helped me pick things out. It was good fancy makeup. Lol. Anyways, I wrapped it all up. I was so proud. Christmas came, and I was the last to get to open my gift.

My cousin freaked out about hers, ran up to her room to try on the makeup. I got my gift. It was in a bill-envelope. I opened it. It was one of those $1 packs of Goody plastic barrettes. Still had the price tag on it. My heart was broken. I tried to hold back tears, but I was seven. Everyone made fun of me for having too high of expectations and they made a rule that you had to be 16 or older to participate from then on.

I stopped attending family Christmas. I’d rather have no gifts than be treated like trash. 34 years old now, that cousin the worst. But everyone in the family still hates me.


18. Talk About a Sucky Gift

When I was a wee seven years old, my grandmother placed a long skinny box with my name on it under the Christmas tree about a week before the holiday. For the next seven days, my small self drooled over the idea of a play baby stroller folded up in that box, just waiting to be filled with various stuffed animals. On that magical morning, I ripped the box open…and my heart sank. It was a VACUUM CLEANER.

Not a toy one, either. A real-life, serious, small vacuum cleaner. She claimed that she thought it was a great idea because “I loved cleaning when I visited her house.” That’s because you’re basically a hoarder and your house is disgusting, Granny.


19. The Vanishing Gifts Trick

When I was 11-12 my father’s fourth wife would constantly give gifts to me and my sister but would often take them back when we were out of the house and return them. So, she’d give us really cool things, like a DVD player or even once a slot machine (???) but in a week or so they’d be gone…and we were expected to be totally okay with that.

The only gifts that she gave us (permanently) were her old clothes. And that would have been fine, except that she was a size 20 and at the time I was a size 8/9. She fully expected me to wear her clothes, which were often wrapped and in gift boxes, and stopped speaking to me when I said they were too big to fit. Anyway, my father’s married to his fifth wife now.


20. Creating a Tradition

Haven’t gotten many bad gifts, really, but sure gave one once. Here’s my story. I had only been dating this lady for about a couple of months when Christmas happened. We didn’t talk about gifts, so I, being dumb, assumed we weren’t doing anything. We had planned to hang out Christmas Eve though, so I thought I would be all clever and sneak in a little present, just to be smooth.

Little did I know she thought this was a full-blown Christmas gift exchange, like a stocking full of stuff and everything. I opened several nice presents from her, nothing too expensive, but she already knew me well apparently and got the right things. I knew she liked chocolate, I think, and felt horrible when all she opened was a single, barely wrapped, large bag of Dark Chocolate M&Ms.

That was 12 years ago. She’s my wife now and expects Dark Chocolate M&Ms each Christmas, along with whatever else I actually get her.


21. Sharing by Force

When I was about 12 years old, I mowed lawns to earn a bit of money for myself, and I spent many months saving up to buy a Gameboy Advance. I loved this thing, and I played it incessantly for hours every day. Two months later, on my little brother’s birthday, they bought him a Gameboy Advance game—just the game cartridge. He didn’t have a Gameboy.

Needless to say, I was frustrated, because this meant that I was forced to share my Gameboy with him, and when I was visibly salty about it, my parents told me to stop being selfish. It’s not that I didn’t want to share with my brother, but it was poopy that they bought him a gift that he could not use without borrowing my prized possession.

Then, when I expressed my annoyance, they made me feel guilty about it.


22. Dollar Store Christmas

I’ve never really been one to expect gifts because for some reason I feel guilty accepting them. When there is an occasion where a gift is traditionally given, I tend to give a shortlist of practical things I may want or need, and a few simple ideas of things that I really like. My mother is the queen of false promises in this regard (and in general).

She would always say that going out to dinner was my birthday present growing up, and that was fine with me. The issue is that we would never go out to dinner, and when we finally would go out, there was no mention of my birthday, and she had forgotten all about it. This happened all growing up. I think the worst promise she made was last year when she came to Boston to stay with me for a week.

I let her have my bed, and I slept on the sofa. She said she hated my mattress, and that no one should have to sleep on that junk. She said she was going to get me a mattress for Christmas. I refused multiple times because it’s a huge expense, and I finally gave in when she wouldn’t stop talking about it. I offered to put $350 towards one that she picked out for like $700. I mailed her my portion of the money for the purchase of this Christmas gift.

When Christmas came, she gave me dollar store trinkets, a huge, ugly coffee table from a yard sale, a plastic bag with like 50 marked down socks, and a few clearance fleece throw blankets. Still didn’t get my money back.


23. The Dirty Dirt Bike Debacle

It wasn’t bad because the gift was that bad, but more because of the context of it. My little brother is the definition of a spoiled jerk. He has been his entire life. One year, when I was maybe 13 or 14 and he was eight or nine, we both asked for dirt bikes for Christmas. I had several friends who went out with their dads on the weekend to the track or out to the desert and I wanted my own bike to go with them.

I wasn’t necessarily expecting a dirt bike, but I asked for one anyway. Christmas day comes, little brother, who didn’t want a dirt bike half as bad as I did, got a brand new Kawasaki KX65 dirt bike. I got a $40 remote control dirt bike…he also got the same remote control dirt bike. I remember coming out to the living room that morning and seeing his dirt bike and almost crying.

I thought they were playing a joke on me so much to the point that I went and checked the garage and side yard to see if there was another dirt bike. I rode his bike more than he did as he really never had much interest, but it was way too small for me so it wasn’t very useful for me either other than cruising it around the neighborhood once in a while, the thing sat with hardly any hours on it for years and years before my parents basically gave it away.


24. All Shared Everything

For one Christmas, (one of the few spent with my dad, sister, and her mom for reasons you’ll see) I had asked for a Walkman, a fancy coloring book, jewelry box, and a Barbie because I collected them. So, we decided to let my sister open her presents first (she was six and I was 12). She got fancy new markers with the coloring book I wanted, an expensive collectible Barbie, a cherry oak jewelry box, and the fanciest Walkman.

So, it’s my turn because seeing hers I figured it was a glimpse of things to come and was super excited. I got a pad of lined paper, wax crayons like the kinds they give you at Denny’s, a cardboard jewelry box which was basically just a box, no compartments, a “barbie” (the cheap gas station kind, you know, the ones that are so thin that you can push their boobs in), and no Walkman. I was forced to share all of my stuff with my sister, but I was not allowed to use her Walkman even though she didn’t even own a tape for it…

It was always like this though. I even had to share punishments. If I got into trouble that was it, I got punished, but if she got into trouble, so did I, because “it wouldn’t be fair for her to have to be stuck at home and you weren’t.” Ummm, that’s the whole FREAKIN point dummies!


25. A History of Bad Gifts

I’ve got a few. Last year my grandfather got me a blanket for Christmas…except that he realized he’d forgotten to get my older sister a present so he gave the blanket to her instead. How do I know this? Because he told us while he was giving out his presents. When I was a little kid (going back about 25 years) I cut the legs off a pair of sweatpants and gave them to my dad for Christmas as “leg warmers.”

No clue where I came up with the idea. Found out a few years ago he still has them and it still cracks him up whenever he sees them. About 10 years ago, my uncle was giving out Christmas gifts to everyone in the family. He’s mentally handicapped but he makes sure to go to the dollar store to buy everyone something, typically mugs.

Now, my uncle doesn’t really put much thought into who gets what mug. He just wraps the mug and puts someone’s name on it. Sometimes people get multiple mugs and other times you get none because he doesn’t keep track of who has already been assigned a mug. Well, my cousin was married to a Muslim (it’s relevant, I promise) and her gift was a mug that said, “Jesus loves you.”

It was the only religious-themed mug out of probably 50 and she got it. The entire family was laughing, including her. She thought it was great.


26. What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You

My mother-in-law gave me a full-sized bed for my son that her grandmother had just passed in. Like two days prior. It even had bodily fluid stains from the corpse. But they cleaned it with Lysol! The bed was bought one month prior to her death. It was bought so she could sleep in comfort for her last couple of years; the mattress is super nice and was expensive.

My in-laws are wealthy because they are incredibly cheap. When the old lady passed so suddenly of natural causes (she was in her 90s), they just couldn’t bother throwing it away. Since my son needed his first real bed we were given the death bed. I had it professionally cleaned before he EVER slept on it and I still use a mattress cover.

It’s been almost three years now and we still have it. My son will never know.


27. Underwear for Days

My brother got a pocketknife in a small cylinder package (old toilet paper roll) wrapped like candy. Excited, I started unwrapping mine that looked similar. Underwear. All of it underwear. And once a bathroom faucet. That is when I knew childhood was over.


28. Gets Better With Time

I gave my friend a fifth of Gentlemen Jack Daniels for his birthday, which was about a week before mine. A week later, he gave me a half-empty bottle of Gentlemen Jack Daniels, wrapped up and everything. I don’t drink.


29. Most Used Terrible Gift

It was actually a Reddit secret Santa gift. I asked for books, and the person sent me a card first saying, “Your present is on its way, and it will surely add to your book collection.” It was a bookmark of owls saying “Hooooots reading my book?” Granted I still use the bookmark today, but what a tease.


30. A Harsh Lesson

The Christmas after my mum passed I got an alarm clock as my present. Her husband said it was so I “might wake up in the morning now and actually contribute something.” Still salty eight years later. He’s passed now though, so who is the real winner?


31. How Exes Are Made

Ex-boyfriend gave me a pack of smokes after I had quit for three months to “celebrate my progress.” Most memorable thing he gave me was chlamydia though.


32. The Cream Bag

I actually have three of these and I can’t pick just one so I’ll list them all: Once I got a used pair of pants with what I think was a poo stain in the butt area. I’ve also received hamster treats (great-grandpa thought they were trail bars, which still would have been a sucky gift). And lastly, I received a “stress ball” from my baby cousin, that was actually just a Ziploc bag full of his prescribed itch cream that was duct-taped shut. It blew up.


33. School Time!

My parents, for whatever reason, got me and my sister school supplies for Christmas one year when I was young. Every. Single. Gift. Notebooks, pencils, erasers, a protractor, a calculator, etc. And I wasn’t even mad. I truly thought my parents believed those gifts are what we wanted for Christmas and I couldn’t bear letting them see my disappointment.

So I faked excitement with each gift unwrapped and thanked my parents. To this day, I don’t know if those gifts were some kind of punishment for something we did or if they truly were trying to make us happy. Either way, I just showed them I appreciated whatever they got me.


34. Garbage Bags for a Garbage Holiday

Christmas when I was ten. I woke up the day before sick as a dog with flu symptoms which persisted until four days later. When I woke up on Christmas it was the worst of it, and I felt like I was dying. I skipped present opening and slept as best I could until my extended family got to our house. My mother made me come down to open presents with my grandparents.

My grandparents had always been known as the best gift-givers. They always got us insane gifts so I was excited to do it and even forgot about my sickness for a few seconds as I sat in front of my presents from them. The first few were the usual, candy and some socks, a must from older folks. But then I pick up the main present. I was so excited, and I just wanted one thing to make this whole sickness seem worth it. I rip off the packaging…and my stomach drops. I’m staring down at a box of garbage bags. My whole family starts laughing hysterically.

Apparently, my mom told my grandmother I had been slacking in the past few weeks on my main chore which was taking out the trash. So my grandmother, not knowing what else to get, just chalked it up to a joke gift. I instantly started crying and my mother told me I was ungrateful and sent me to bed. I cried the rest of the afternoon from the incident and my illness.

Ever since then I have hated Christmas and any other occasion where giving gifts is involved.


35. Hoarding: Solved

My mom is the worst gift-giver of all time. She usually just gives you one of whatever she’s been hoarding that she doesn’t have room for. For a while, this was ceramic lighthouses. Then it was little fountains. As a man in his thirties, I was not the least bit interested in either. Then, one year, after my wife and I wondered what my birthday present would be—a fountain or a lighthouse—she surprised me.

She took a lighthouse, drilled a hole in the bottom, put a pump in it, and set it in a ceramic bowl of water so water poured from the top of the lighthouse, like it was flooded or something. Freaking lighthouse fountain. Well played, Mom.


36. A Shiny New Bathroom

My parents renovated my bathroom at their house. It was a “surprise.” Thing is, I didn’t live at home anymore—I had been living in a different state for four years. I was visiting for Christmas with my fiancé. The bathroom is connected to my room and every day for the five days we were visiting we were woken up at 8 AM and had to leave so the construction guys could work.

When I sort of complained about being woken up she called me ungrateful and screamed at me. We didn’t speak for four months.


37. No Reciprocation

I organized a surprise party for my wife’s 30th birthday. Supper at the local pizza place (her favorite), then bowling, then a movie. For my thirtieth, she told me to go out and by myself a cake. When I came home her parents had shown up to partake in said cake. I had to go out again for soda. There was no cake left when I got back.


38. Very…Efficient

I have an uncle I don’t really know who lives down south and thinks he’s a cowboy. He would give me gifts of things he likes but I definitely did not. One Christmas when I was a kid, he gave me a detailed book about guns and a check for $8.56. The next Christmas it was a horse calendar and a check for $17.02. Eventually, we figured out that apparently he set out a $30 budget for my gift and would give the exact remainder as a check. He’s weird.


39. This is a Joke…Right?

I should start this by saying I don’t give a care about getting expensive things for gifts whatsoever, but this was just depressing. One Christmas after watching my entire family open all their new iPads, laptops and other cool new devices, I opened my three gifts. The first thing I opened was a bottle of Colon Cleanse.

The second thing I opened was a package of female intimate moist wipes (I’m a guy). The third thing I opened was a DVD about terrorism. After opening my gifts and thinking they are all a joke from my dad everyone just gets kind of quiet and realizes that I don’t have anything else to open. My brother-in-law walks over to me, leans down, and whispers in my ear “that was the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen.”

The best part about all of this is that my Dad bought them new but 1st generation iPads (I didn’t know this at the time). My birthday is right before Christmas and this particular year I decided to treat myself and get a new iPad. While my family was playing with their “new” iPads they just got for Christmas they then proceeded to give me heck and call me a showoff for having the newest iPad that I just bought for myself.


40. Bad Gifts, Worse Dude

A few years back when I was in college, a group of my friends and I decided to throw a Christmas party. We decided that instead of everyone buying gifts for everyone we’d just draw names and buy a $15-20 gift for that person. I got the name of a friend’s boyfriend. He was a jerk, but we put up with him because we liked her. I bought him a smallish sized bottle of Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Skull Vodka because it was new that year and the rest of my friends were also buying exotic booze as their gifts to liven the Holiday Spirit.

As it turns out he got my name too and bought me a $5 Walmart bargain bin movie with a bunch of low budget sci-fi original type movies on it. It was embarrassing to see everyone else opening up sizeable bottles of liquor and I was the person there with the worst gift. What baffled me was that when I returned it to Walmart, I exchanged it for The Addams Family and Hellraiser, so for the exact same price he could have bought me good movies, he just didn’t care.

But I jump ahead of myself, everyone at the party shared their liquor with everyone else that night. He guarded his vodka like the one ring and let no one try a sip but drank copious amounts of everyone else’s booze. A few months later he cheats on the friend dating him and attacks another girl in our group of friends.

I swear up and down that his bad Christmas gift was the tip of his douche iceberg.


39. An Unexpected Tearjerker

Growing up I used to absolutely hate that my uncle would get all of us kids the same $1 pair of cheap one size fits all gloves. I clearly remember thinking how I’d really rather just have the dollar, and yet he never failed to get them for us. It was always the last gift my cousins and I would open…Thanks, Uncle Craig.

Craig was developmentally disabled, and although he was well into his 30s when we were kids, he would come out into the street and play baseball with us. He’d ride bikes across town with us, buy us beer and adult mags when we were older…and yet every year, he’d get these darn gloves, even when we were grown adults, his health was fading, and we all moved away.

This will be Christmas number three without Uncle Craig, and as I look back at it now it makes more sense. He was living in a shack that he was renting for $350 a month there were 15 nieces and nephews…We knew he couldn’t afford to get us any toys or anything, but he wanted us to have something more meaningful than a dollar bill, and Christmas was his favorite holiday.

RIP Uncle Craig. I wish there was a poorly wrapped pair of gloves under my tree this year.


38. Old Chocolate

Expired chocolate, on Christmas, from an aunt who was a chronic re-gifter, yet always expected expensive, top-notch gifts for her children on Christmas and their birthdays. Not only was the chocolate expired, but it was also evident that it had melted completely and re-solidified. When I noticed, I came up with a devious plan. I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help myself. I went up to her with “OMG this chocolate is so good, you have to try it!” In front of the whole family.

I watched her unwrap a piece of chocolate and when she noticed how it looked, she was extremely hesitant to eat it. When she looked at me, I just had a smile on my face: “It’s the best chocolate ever!” And then I watched her slowly bring it to her mouth and try to eat it. She quickly walked to the kitchen immediately afterward.

I think I’ve only seen her once since that moment almost nine years ago.


Sources: 1, 2, 3

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