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Nov 12, 2004
This week's theme
What does that car name mean?

This week's words

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Pronunciation RealAudio

tercel (TUR-sel) noun, also tiercel or tercelet

The male of a hawk, especially of the peregrine falcon or a goshawk.

[From Middle English, from Middle French terçuel, from Vulgar Latin tertiolus, diminutive of Latin tertius (third). Ultimately from Indo-European root trei- (three) that's also the source of such words as three, testify (to be the third person), triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13).]

Why the sense of third in the word for a male hawk? It's either from the belief that the third egg produced a male, or from the fact that the male of hawk is one-third smaller than the female.

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

"Adam was a 2-year-old tercel Hubbard had been working with for more than a year. The bird was acquired from a federally licensed breeder for $1,000."
Rich Landers; Falconer Puzzled by Loss of Bird; Spokesman Review (Spokane, Washington); Jan 10, 1999.

"On this occasion the tercel flew off after a pigeon, and though the bird was fitted with a tracking device, it disappeared."
William Shaw; Bird on a Wire; The Observer (London, UK); Apr 13, 2003.

Today's word is the name of a car from Toyota.


The mind is but a barren soil; a soil which is soon exhausted, and will produce no crop, or only one, unless it be continually fertilized and enriched with foreign matter. -Joshua Reynolds, painter (1723-1792)

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