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#45550 10/23/01 01:03 AM
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enthusiast
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I was struck by this word today, and began to wonder if it was derived from the bird or from some other source. I found this definition in Atomica:

ravenous (răv'ə-nəs)
adj.
Extremely hungry; voracious.
Rapacious; predatory.
Greedy for gratification: ravenous for power. See synonyms at voracious.
[Middle English, from Old French ravineux, from raviner, to take by force, from Vulgar Latin *rapīnāre, from Latin rapīna, plunder. See rapine.]


This etymology, though sensible, doesn't quite satisfy me. I still think that the bird must be involved somehow! The OED definition of raven included this side note:

The common raven is easily tamed, but is mischievous and thievish, and has been popularly regarded as a bird of evil omen and mysterious character. (my emphasis)

Does anybody else think there might be a connection, or am I just out to lunch?



#45551 10/23/01 04:35 AM
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could be just one of those logostical coincidences. raven (the bird) seems to have Teutonic roots. (you could have just as easily emphasized easily tamed, but that wouldn't fit with ravenous I suppose :)


#45552 10/23/01 07:44 AM
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Rapine and the alternative Middle English spelling ravin suggest that association with the bird might have helped move to and fix the -e- spelling.

I think the Latin root rap- 'seize' is related to Greek harp- 'seize', as in the Harpies.

The Old English and Old Norse for the bird were hrafn, but the h is unrelated, coming from an earlier k.


#45553 10/23/01 11:40 AM
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Chambers says:

raven/ravin/ravine: n, rapine: preying: prey (O.Fr. ravine, plunder-L. rapina-rapere, plunder, to sieze.)

Having the same Latin root works for me.

stales


#45554 10/23/01 01:38 PM
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#45555 10/23/01 03:34 PM
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you could have just as easily emphasized easily tamed, but that wouldn't fit with ravenous I suppose :)

Exactly. I was indulging in a bit of decidedly unscholarly data-tweaking. Or selective reading, as the case may be.

Any excuse for a word thread, right Uncle Bill?




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