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Has any etymologist entertained the possibility that "carpa" (carp) and "carassius" (crucian carp) are related?

As far as I can see, "carpa" (carp) appeared in Late Latin and it is usually considered to be a borrowing from an unattested Gothic word for that fish. "Carassius" also appeared in ...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the Latin word for zebra?

I was searching for animals in Latin, and I ended up finding that the Romans knew zebras, and they used them to pull chariots. They also had the name "hippotigris". However, I couldn’t find ...
user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why does canis have both masculine and feminine forms?

Most nouns in Latin (and e.g. Spanish) have only one gender. Some other have two (epicene nouns). canis is one example (Separate Q: are there more examples?) I wonder why is that the case for canis. ...
luchonacho's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
720 views

How do you say "chicken" in Latin?

I know which words to use for specific types of chicken: gallīna is a female (adult) chicken (hen). gallus is a male (adult) chicken (cock, rooster); it also is used for the male (cock) of other ...
Asteroides's user avatar
  • 29.6k
10 votes
0 answers
188 views

Did the Romans walk their dogs?

Here is a mosaic from Pompeii showing a Roman dog in a leash: (Image from Wikipedia.) Other similar pictures of mosaics are easy to find online, so I am confident that dog leashes were a well known ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
533 views

Latin names for groups of animals

How should I go about naming groups of animals in Latin? Should I use a single word like grex in all situations, or should I use varying words depending on something? In English — and I simplify for ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
598 views

Words for dogs, puppies, and small dogs in koine, and their connotations when applied to humans

Modern Greek has σκύλος for "dog," which is derived from ancient σκυλαξ, meaning "puppy." The generic word for a dog in ancient Greek was κυων. There is also a diminutive κυνάριον, ...
user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
968 views

How to decline a whale?

The Latin word cētus (a whale or some other major sea creature) behaves peculiarly. In singular it is a normal-looking masculine cētus, but in plural it is a neuter cētē. The ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
19 votes
3 answers
2k views

Is any animal neuter in Latin?

The word animal itself is neuter in Latin, but at least all of the common animal species seem to be masculine or feminine (or common gender): canis, feles, equus, pardus, leo/leaena, lupus/lupa, ursus/...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
296 views

Is there a Greek word meaning to purr?

I've heard that there is no known verb for purring (of a cat) in Greek. Is that true? Any qualified guess as to what verb a Greek might have used?
Toothrot's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
2k views

What did the Greeks and Romans call their pets?

I know that some Greeks and Romans kept pet canēs, cattī, and even dracōnēs. My question now is: what did they name them? In other words, do we have attestations of how the ancients named their pets? ...
Draconis's user avatar
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7 votes
3 answers
368 views

Where does the word "thlypis"/θλυπις come from?

A number of New World warblers seem to have genus names that end in the element -thlypis. It's been hard for me to find information about the etymology of this element; I found a few sources on the ...
Asteroides's user avatar
  • 29.6k
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

What's the Latin or Greek for ladybug?

I'm curious whether we know the Classical Latin or Greek names of the ladybug. I can't find the word in any of the dictionaries I have access to at the moment, and googling turns up this reddit thread ...
TKR's user avatar
  • 31.4k
5 votes
2 answers
396 views

How did dogs and wolves compare in the Roman mind?

The Romans knew both dogs and wolves. But how similar and how dissimilar did they think they were, as indicated by their literature? I am looking for an understanding about Roman views on dogs and ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
127 views

Which verb do insects fly with?

Having read a question (and answer) about flies flying, I started to wonder whether flies would really fly with the verb volare. I had always somehow imagined that volare referred to more elegant and ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
385 views

Is a 'caper' just a goat, or also a boar?

Lewis and Short have this: căper, pri, m. [cf. κάπρος, wild boar], a he-goat, a goat. How come the Greek word means boar, while the Latin means goat? I presume the words are related; how could ...
Cerberus's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
171 views

Where does "simia" come from?

The L&S entry for simia ("ape") says that the etymology is dubious, and it is perhaps akin to similis. What do other sources have to say on the etymology? Are there popular theories or is it ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
210 views

Is ulula a diminutive?

Is ulula (an owl of some kind) a diminutive? It looks like one, but I'm not familiar with a Latin word looking remotely like ula. The word appears to be onomatopoetic to some extent, but it's hard to ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
300 views

Does Latin have an animal-based term for "coward," like "scaredy-cat" in English?

In English, a lowbrow way to call someone a coward is to call him or her a "scaredy-cat" or "fraidy-cat." Apparently, somewhere along the way cats got a reputation for being easily frightened. ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
217 views

Do any common/barnyard Latin animal names start with vocalic I?

Like with this question, I'm looking for common or barnyard animals attested in the Classical period, but Late Latin or early Medieval Latin that has a good case of going back to the Classical period ...
cmw's user avatar
  • 56k
19 votes
1 answer
2k views

What was a draco?

The Latin dictionaries I checked suggest that the word draco is attested in classical literature and it is often translated as "dragon". However, it is my impression — which may well be wrong! &...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
10 votes
3 answers
1k views

Do any Latin animal names start with Q?

Ideally I'm looking for common or barnyard animals attested in the Classical period, but Late Latin or early Medieval Latin that has a good case of going back to the Classical period would suffice. I ...
cmw's user avatar
  • 56k
6 votes
1 answer
103 views

As fit as an animal

If someone is in good health, one can say that they are as fit as a flea (or fiddle) in English or as healthy as a billy goat ("terve kuin pukki") in Finnish. What would be a similar idiom in Latin, ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
29 votes
1 answer
5k views

Why hippopotamus instead of potamohippus?

Judging by this dictionary entry for hippopotamus, the Romans knew this animal and used the name we currently use in English. This word has an obviously Greek origin: hippos is a horse and potamos is ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
268 views

Did the Romans have a definition for a species of organism?

In today's taxonomy animals, plants and other organisms are organized in species. Defining a species is no simple task for modern biologists, but we have a fair understanding of what a species ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
364 views

"Nequidquam seros exercet noctua cantus": what is the Latin onomatopoeia for the owl's hoot?

In the 16th century, Robert et Antoine Lechevallier d'Aigneaux made a famous translation of Virgil's Aeneid which was seemingly praised in the French world; they also translated the Georgics including ...
user avatar
17 votes
2 answers
5k views

What do animals say in classical Latin?

It is well known that the way animals "speak" is amusingly different in different languages. (See lion below.) This makes it hard to guess what kinds of words the Romans would have put in the mouths ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
896 views

"Desinat in piscem" in Horace's Ars Poetica: morphology or looks or what exactly?

This is about the core meaning of desinat in piscem as in: Humano capiti ceruicem pictor equinam iungere si uelit et uarias inducere plumas undique collatis membris, ut turpiter atrum desinat ...
user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
2k views

Which animal names have grammatical gender, and which have common gender?

In Allen & Greenough, §34, I see a short discussion on the gender of animal names: Many nouns may be either masculine or feminine, according to the sex of the object. These are said to be of ...
Nathaniel is protesting's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
539 views

Does animal include human?

In today's English the word "animal" can include or exclude humans, depending on context. How about the word animal in classical Latin? Does it include humans? If not, is there a term that would cover ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is a black sheep in Latin?

It is easy to translate "black sheep" literally: ovis nigra. I suspect that this phrase does not have the same meaning as in English (and Finnish), judging by its absence in literature — ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the correct way to say "Noctis Avem"?

I'm looking to use "Night bird" as a name or title for something. I don't know which, if any, of the following would be correct: Noctis Avem Avem Noctis Avis Noctem Avem nox etc. What rules come ...
GJH105775's user avatar
  • 123
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Beaver and Pollux?

Castor and Pollux are famous mythological twins. Castor is also the genus of beavers. This makes me wonder two things: Are these two Castors related in any way? Was this double meaning observed in ...
Joonas Ilmavirta's user avatar