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Jul 25, 2011
This week's theme
Animal-related words that are used metaphorically

This week's words
hircine
porcine
anserine
bovine
pavonine

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

We often use our friends from the animal kingdom to characterize the behavior of our fellow human beings: "She is as crafty as a fox. He is as savage as a wolf..." These terms are frequently unfair -- the word asinine used to refer to a donkey, but now it primarily means someone stupid. Are these gentle creatures silly? Who are we to say?

This week AWAD presents more words in a similar vein. So the next time you employ one of these words to refer figuratively to a two-legged creature around you, be careful. You may be slandering someone -- the four-legged one.

hircine

PRONUNCIATION:
(HUHR-syn, -sin)

MEANING:
adjective:
1. Of or relating to a goat.
2. Having a strong odor.
3. Lustful; lewd.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin hircus (goat). Earliest documented use: 1656.

USAGE:
"The showgirls, all looking to be in their early 20s, came out and posed next to the hircine and bearded Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, the guitarist and the bassist."
Peter Watrous; America's Pulse as Taken by ZZ Top; The New York Times; Jun 8, 1994.

See more usage examples of hircine in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The tax which will be paid for the purpose of education is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests, and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance. -Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect and author (1743-1826)

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