It’s high time we had a little word origin fun around here. You already know why flamingos are flamingos and how the crocodile got his name, but now it’s the LEOPARD’S turn.

leopard

It really is a story about how little humans used to know about science, particularly the mating habits of large cats. See, when first encountering a leopard, people believed it was a hybrid between a LION and a PANTHER. Hence, the words ‘leo’ and ‘pardos’ (a male panther) were shoved together to create leopard. Leopards are their own unique snowflake of a species, of course, but the name stuck.

Onto FERRETS.

ferret

Does this little guy look guilty to you? (Okay, he does a little bit actually.) He’s named after the latin word ‘furritus’, which means ‘little thief’. Ferrets are notorious for being a little tricksy, so the name makes a bit of sense. You may recall the book INKHEART, with a lovely chap named Dustfinger. His pet was a marten in the books, but played by a ferret in the film. They are adorable.

Token picture of Dustfinger and Gwin. So much angst.

dusty

Lastly, we get to the cardinal. It’s pretty well documented that the word ‘cardinal’ came first to mean this guy:

cardinalone

So the bird we know and love for its flashy red feathers is likely named for the dude above.

cardinaltwo

The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t get to put its name on many animals, so this one is probably something of a lark in the bird name community. (HEYO.)

Happy new year, cheeky monkeys!

One thought on “Let’s Get Wordy: Leopards, Ferrets, and a small red bird with an inspired name”

  1. A lark… you dork! 😛

    Check out the tui/Parson’s bird though for another avian named after clergy. The white feather tuft at their neck reminded Europeans of parson’s neck poofs! 🙂

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