Last week's words were highly abstract and conceptual. This week, we turn to concrete words from the animal world.
carapace – the thick shell that covers the back of the turtle, the crab, and other animals. also, metephorically, something likened to a shell that serves to protect or isolate from external influence.
Next time you eat lobster or crab, perhaps you'll admire the animal's carapace instead of its shell.
I recently came across this word while reading; I hadn't heard it before. I like it!
an exoskeleton, usually made of chitin - another good word. Pronounced "KITE-'n".
(If you stretch it a little, it could be the lead car in an Italian road race.)
dewlap - a fold of loose skin hanging from the neck of a person, or of certain animals (like the wattle of a turkey, for example)
Originally used as to cattle. You can imagine the dewlap on an obese or elderly person.
Regarding etymology, the sources have an interesting conflict:
Webster says, "The pendulous skin under the neck of an ox, which laps or licks the dew in grazing."
Others say that 'dew' is of unknown source, and the 'lap' is from lappe "loose piece" (O.E. læppa).
What's the difference between a carapace and a shell?
Some "tail-words": coward, caudal, acaudal, scut
caudal – pertaining to a tail (Latin cauda, tail)
acaudal – tailess
Coward comes from the same root. Think of the metephor of a coward as someone whe turns tail or slinks away with his tail between his legs.
scut – a stubby erect tail, as on a hare, rabbit, or deer
I haven't looked it up, but here is my understanding:
A SHELL is an external covering usually made of hard calcium-containing material (Os-Cal = "Oyster Shell Calcium"), like chalk. It may grow by accretion over time, like a Chambered Nautilus, but generally is of a fixed shape. It is usually one-part, except for bivalves that have two shells hinged together.
A CARAPACE is an external covering made of a hard protein-containing material. It's organic, and it burns, as anyone who used to play in the sun with a magnifying glass as a kid can attest. In beetles it's chitin. I don't know what it is in turtles. In fingernails it's keratin, and I think in horses' hooves too. I don't know the details of how it grows. It can be multipart and quite complex in form, and is often articulated - think of lobster claws.
In English we are sloppy about our usage, and speak of lobster "shells" without even thinking of what they're made of. In that context it's a functional description rather than a materials one.
All this is of course subject to amplification, refinement and correction by anyone more technically expert in the field.
Some "nest" words:
nidify, nidificate – to make a nest
nidicolous – remaining in the nest after hatching until grown or nearly grown
What wonderful poetic metaphors come to mind!
Ever year my wife nidifies about the house, with her spring cleaning and redecorating.
Will we ever be empty nesters? Our nidiculous son, the high school graduate, won't move out: he lolls around the house all day. His older sister re-nidiculates: she's a boomerang baby who came back after college.
I'd like to think this next word for "coward" came from the same nidi root, much as coward relates to caudel. But apparently it did not.
niding –a coward; a dastard; a term of utmost opprobrium. (also written nithing)
If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
Laze outside on a warm summer evening, and enjoy the sound of the crickets chirring.
chirr - a trilling vibrant sound, such as that made by crickets, grasshoppers, or cicadas (verb: to make that sound)
stridulate - to make a shrill grating, chirping, or hissing sound by rubbing body parts together, as certain insects do. (It is a stridulant sound made by a stridulatory insect.)
quote:No. But he's definitely vulnerable!
[This message was edited by haberdasher on Fri Jun 6th, 2003 at 13:20.]
The turtle lives twixt plated decks
That practically conceal his sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile.
-- Ogden Nash
One of my favorites, Jerry!
Of course this doesn't work so well in the UK since Nash was talking about those animals that walk on dry land, not the ones that swim in the sea. This I know since my parents had an original illustrated edition of Nash that clearly showed the "turtles" as the dry land type.
Here we call the land jobs "Tortoises" and reserve the word "Turtle" for the aquatic version.
epizootic – of a disease which attacks many animals at the same time. (The equivalent of epidemic; strictly speaking, that term is limited to a disease widespread among people.)
A similar word is murrain, from Latin for "death". As best I can tell, murrain originally meant a pestilence or plague, but now particularly means a plague among domestic animals.
Epizootic is not to be confused with epizoic: growing on the external surface of an animal; as, an epizoic parasite
It seems appropriate, for a word-board, to end an "animal theme" with a word on animal communiciation.
zoosemiotics - loosely, "animal language", but including signals other than sound, such as a dog's tail-wagging
Coined by Thomas A. Sebeok in 1963, apparently in his Communication in Animals and Men. This word is not in one-look's dictionaries. Who can check OED for us?
This brings to mind the similar word "dunlap," most often referred to in the phrase "Dunlap's Disease," a condition resulting from someone's overfondness for sweets, fast food, and/or beer as illustrated in the following typical conversation:
1st: He's got Dunlap's Disease.
1st: Yeah. His belly dun lapped over his belt.