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Bovine, Pavonine, and Other Animal Adjectives

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Lisa calls from Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, to ask about adjectives involving various kinds of animals. She knows that pavonine describes something having to do with peacocks, bovine involves cows, anserine refers to geese, and lupine has to do with wolves. But there are many more such collateral adjectives, such as hippotigrine, which describes something involving zebras, from Greek hippos, meaning “horse.” In Greek, the word struthos means “sparrow” and struthos ho megas means “the big sparrow,” the name the Greeks applied to ostriches, and the source of English struthonian, meaning “having to do with ostriches.” Vespertilian refers to bats, from the Latin vesper, meaning “evening” or “evening star,” the source also of vespers, an evening prayer service. In general, these kind of words are known as collateral adjectives. This is part of a complete episode.

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