One great context clue: Greek/Latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots.
Take for example, my student and artist, who shall remain anonymous, but we can call her “K.”
This artist was challenged to draw a centipede — and when challenged, this student steps up! Must be right! You are WRONG, sir, good day!
Challenged to draw a 1,000 leg critter – the artist is inspired:
However, if the artist had remembered the CENTipede has the prefix, CENT, the artist would have remembered that this critter would only require 100 legs.
“Milli” is the prefix for 1,000. “Pede” is part of the derivations for “foot.”
Something I learned though, and would have lost the bet, too:
Millipedes don’t have 1,000 legs, but usually around 100-400. But more than centipedes. Which is probably why they don’t call millipedes: “afewmorelegsthancentipedesbutwearetoolazytocountthem.”
Here is a picture of a millipede from the National Geographic website: