Taking our last theme of "Animal Words", we put a new twist on it for our new theme.
We're familiar with the terms feline and canine, referring to cats and dogs, and there are similar terms referring to other animals. Bovine and equine (cows and horses) are reasonably familiar, and Wordcraft has previously presented several others, like leonine (lion), ursine (bear) and pavonine (peacock, or "with the iridescence of a peacock's tail").
This week we'll present more of this sort, all of them obscure but not ridiculously so, and all of them suitable for figurative use to describe a person. In short, many of them would make an excellent, high-class insult.
ovine – of or like sheep
– Justin Fox, The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street
Not that such a complaint could ever come from Letty, and William would do well to accept her ovine placidity for what it is, rather than mistaking it for Clara’s grudging acquiescence.
– Michel Faber, The Crimson Petal and the White
vulpine – like a fox
– Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
brilliantine – an oily, perfumed hair dressing
Two bird-adjectives, one complimentary, the other decidedly not.
aquiline – of or like an eagle
– Antony Beevor, D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
– David Foster Wallace, Oblivion: Stories
dowager – 1. a widow with title or property from her late husband; hence, 2. a dignified elderly woman
[related to dowry and endow. In other words, a well-endowed woman? ]
Is a well-endowed woman one whose assets precede her? Does her endowment make her man want to cleave(age) to her?
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
CW, see note below.
We’ve previously seen the word waspish, used figuratively for “sharp tongued”. (A nice bit of Shakespeare, that.) Here is its more formal form, and two distinct figurative uses.
vespine – of or like a wasp
– Frank McLynn, Marcus Aurelius: A Life
A gold leather motorcycle belt about a vespine waist.
– Cormac McCarthy, Suttree
(Proving that notwithstanding Caterwauller's ample-example above, sometimes "less" is more! )
Let's not forget the Italian classic:
ophidian – like a snake
Imagine a reader enjoying the novel we quote, and coming across the quoted sentence. If he knows today’s word, the description is positively bone-chilling.
– Lisa Kleypas, Where Dreams Begin
Would be worse if his tongue was ophidian.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Proofreader,
Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
I thought Ophidian was of or about the Greek poet, Ophid.
Oh, I see I'm wrong - ophids are those garden pests that ladybugs eat.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Geoff,
It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti