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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
    But Fisher … hoped to make investors less ovine by getting them to use economics and probability theory. The value of any investment, he wrote, is the income it will produce.
    – 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

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vulpine – like a fox
    He was tall, with vulpine good looks, and wore his kinky, brilliantined hair combed into romantic swirls.
    – Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Bonus word:
brilliantine
– an oily, perfumed hair dressing
 
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Two bird-adjectives, one complimentary, the other decidedly not.

aquiline – of or like an eagle
    Oberstleutnant von der Heydte, with his aquiline nose and sharp intelligence, was far too independent … in the view of senior German officers. He … did little to conceal his opinion that the newly formed Gotz von Berlichingen had been trained more in SS ideology than in sound military principles.
    – Antony Beevor, D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
anserine – of or like a goose
    Bedecked in costume jewelry…, holding her head in a way as to produce a double chin, tottering about with a champagne cocktail like one of those anserine dowagers in Marx Brothers films.
    – David Foster Wallace, Oblivion: Stories
Bonus word:
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? Wink]
 
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Is a well-endowed woman one whose assets precede her? Does her endowment make her man want to cleave(age) to her?


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CW, see note below. Wink
 
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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
    … some observers think that the waspish Hadrian was exercising his vespine humour and insinuating that he thought the lad a prig.
    – Frank McLynn, Marcus Aurelius: A Life

    A gold leather motorcycle belt about a vespine waist.
    – Cormac McCarthy, Suttree
I hope you’ll enjoy these two classic, Christmas-time pieces showcasing a vespine (waspish) waist.

(Proving that notwithstanding Caterwauller's ample-example above, sometimes "less" is more! Wink )
 
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Let's not forget the Italian classic:

http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/vespa.jpg


RJA
 
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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.
    He stared at her intently, his ophidian eyes unblinking.
    – Lisa Kleypas, Where Dreams Begin
 
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Would be worse if his tongue was ophidian.

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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.
 
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I thought Ophidian was of or about the Greek poet, Ophid. Confused Confused Confused

Oh, I see I'm wrong - ophids are those garden pests that ladybugs eat.

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It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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