Word for Wednesday: Hippopotamus

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Happy Wednesday. In this week’s Word for Wednesday we’ll be taking a look at the word Hippopotamus in the first of a series of animal-inspired posts in which we’ll discover just how imaginative (or not!) the wordsmiths of old really were! Come to think of it, imagine a time when everything had yet to be named…

As interesting and appropriate as it now seems, the word Hippopotamus comes from two Greek words: ‘hippos’ meaning ‘horse’ and ‘potamos’ meaning ‘river’. Somehow, ‘horse of the river’ seems too majestic a title for the rather terrifying pig-like creature and interestingly, the hippo’s closest living relatives are Cetacea; whales, dolphins and porpoises.

For the pedants amongst us, it might be worth knowing the correct Latin plural for hippopotamus is ‘hippopotami’, but ‘hippopotamuses’ is far more commonly used and is widely accepted, so is the abbreviation ‘hippo’ (thus reducing the translation to ‘horse’!)

Enjoy the rest of the week newly equipped with these fragments of Hippopotamus trivia – see you next time!

Hugh MacDermott


03 Jun 2015
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