Word for Wednesday: Python

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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’.  

So far we’ve looked at the rhinoceros and the ostrich. Today’s animal is the python

A python is a large non-venomous snake known for killing its prey by constriction and asphyxiation. Pythons have flecked skin and long forked tongues. 

The word python has been used in Zoology to describe this type of snake since the 1800s, when it was first proposed by French zooologer François Marie Daudin. However, the word itself has been used for much longer as the name for the serpent slain by Apollo in Greek mythology. It entered English in the 1580s via Latin. 

Python is possibly linked to ‘pythein’ which means ‘to rot’, or it may come from the PIE ‘dheyb’ meaning ‘hollow, deep, bottom, depths’ in reference to the monsters that dwell in such places. In the myth, Apollo left the dead serpent to rot in the sun.  

15 Apr 2020
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