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Sep 14, 2015
This week’s theme
Words coined after animals

This week’s words
doryphore
ratty
pullulate
winkle
capriole

doryphore
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

A dandelion has a lion and a shrewd person is like a shrew. And these spellings are no accident. The words are indeed coined after those animals. A dandelion is named from the supposed appearance of its jagged leaves to a lion’s teeth (dent de lion). Someone shrewd has qualities of a shrew, a mole-like animal (the sense of the word shrewd has shifted over time).

This week we’ll see five other words that are coined after animals, some that are obvious in their animal roots, others that aren’t.

doryphore

PRONUNCIATION:
(DOR-uh-for)

MEANING:
noun: A pedantic or persistent critic.

ETYMOLOGY:
From French doryphore (Colorado beetle, a potato pest), from Greek doruphoros (spear carrier). The author Harold Nicolson brought the word to English in its current sense. Earliest documented use: 1952.

USAGE:
“Do you wind everyone up because you are nothing more than a doryphore?”
Tom Whitehead; Doryphores Must Keep Away from Dinner Parties; The Scotsman (Edinburgh, Scotland); Oct 25, 2001.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (14 Sep 1917-1986)

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