Word for Wednesday: Ostrich

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Our chosen theme for April's Word for Wednesday posts is animals

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’.  

Last week, we explored the origins of the word rhinoceros and this week’s animal is rather different looking. Today, our chosen word is ostrich.

Ostriches are the largest living birds, known for their speed, long necks, and two-toed feet. Today, wild ostriches are only found in Africa. 

The word has been used in English since the early thirteenth century. It comes from the Old French ‘ostruce’ which comes from the Vulgar Latin ‘avis struthio’, which in turn comes from the Greek word for ostrich ‘strouthion’. 

Strouthion’ comes from ‘stroughos meagle’ which translates to ‘big sparrow’. The Greeks also called the bird ‘stroughokamelos’ which means ‘camel-sparrow’, presumably for the bird’s long neck. 

What do you think? Can you see any resemblances between the ostrich and the sparrow? We’re not convinced…




Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary

08 Apr 2020
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