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“Flesh-Colored” in the Names of Animals

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George, an ornithologist, calls from Seattle, Washington, to discuss using of the term flesh-colored to describe something pinkish in color. The Century Dictionary, first published in 1889, defined flesh-color as “The normal color of the skin of a white person; pale carnation or pinkish; the color of the cheek of a healthy white child.” Although such a narrow definition is increasingly considered myopic and unacceptable, George says many bird field guides still describe pink feet as flesh-colored. However, there’s a growing movement among scientists to update such language, including the name of the bird officially known as flesh-footed shearwater. This is part of a complete episode.

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