Sunday, December 26, 2010

Today's Etymology Lesson

So I hail from a middle class CT family where birdwatching is a traditional activity I grew up with (which has helped me find words such as EIDER and AVOCET), so naturally I (and my parents) want my kids to follow in my footsteps. While looking in a bird book my son got for Christmas, I noticed the Latin name for certain wrens, of the genus Troglodyte. 'Troglodyte?', I thought, 'I thought that was an insult?' It is- troglodyte means 'cave-dweller', and usually it's used to insult someone, on the same level as calling them a 'frickin' Neanderthal', as one of my friends would put it. So how is a genus of birds called this, you ask? Well, courtesy of wikipedia, here you are:
EtymologyAncient Greek τρωγλοδύτες "cave-dwellers", from trogle (τρώγλη) "hole" + dyein (δυειν) "to enter". In reference to the tendency of these wrens to enter small crevices as they search for food.

Oh, and also, TROG means 'hooligan', according to Zyzzyva. Interestingly, it's anagram is GROT, which is a grotto, or cave.


Roger Owen Green said...

Probably not useful for SCRABBLE, but as I noted here, troglodytine -Resembling or having the characters of wrens.

scrabblepodcast said...

Ah, well it would be pretty rare to have the right situation come up where it would be playable- but even if it did, TROGLODYTINE* isn't (yet) acceptable in the current tournament word list. However, TROGLODYTIC is, and the next time someone plays TROG against me, I'm hoping my rack will be CDILOTY. (Which as it turns out, is DICOTYL, or 'dicot; a plant with two see leaves')