Word for Wednesday: Camel

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Our chosen theme for April's Word for Wednesday posts is animals. So far we’ve looked at rhinoceros, ostrich, and python

The word animal has been used in English to describe sentient living creatures since the early fourteenth century, before which the word beast was more common. It comes from the Latin 'animale' meaning ‘being which breathes’, from ‘anima’ which means ‘breath’ or ‘soul’.  

So far we’ve looked at the word origins of rhinocerosostrich, python, and flamingo. For our final animal-themed Word for Wednesday post, our chosen word is word camel.

A camel is a cud-chewing mammal used as a draft or saddle animal in desert regions. It is known for the one or two humps on its back, which store fat reserves that allow it to survive for extended periods without food or water.

The root of camel – the Hebrew of Phoenician ‘gamal’ – is perhaps related to the Arabic ‘jamala’ which means ‘to bear’ and even today camels are known for their ability to bear heavy loads.  The word became ‘kamelos’ in Greek, then ‘camelus’ in Latin, before finally passing into Old North French and then Old English as ‘camel’.


29 Apr 2020
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