Ammon- and krypto-, roots of this month’s words in question, have a common meaning: “hidden”. Despite their mysterious roots, each refers to a well-known chemical substance, the most famous of which is the fictional kryptonite.
We pursue our exploration of the animal kingdom in the following Word Stories. Among the weird creatures inhabiting the earth, some enjoy more fame than others. Lexical good fortune has given the long-snouted aardvark a premium spot in most English-language dictionaries, while it has also starred in a number of popular TV series, including the Ant and the Aardvark (1969–1971). The kiwi, a flightless bird, gained celebrity status with its selection as the national symbol of New Zealand, subsequently developing its brand by lending its name to several other uses.
The wild theme continues in this month’s Word Stories. We examine two remarkably similar beasts that hail from opposite corners of the earth: the African plains and the highlands of Asia.
After beginning in Southern Africa, we now cross the Atlantic for our next selection of Word Stories. Such a journey would prove impossible for the subject of this instalment: a flightless bird known as the rhea or nandu.
Every word has its story: its unique pathway into the English language. Some are longer and more intricate than others, while some follow a surprising route. The first instalment of this series looks at zebra and quagga, two words describing closely related animals. Like the creatures themselves, neither word is native to the English-speaking world. However, the commonality of their genetics does not extend to the names we give them, one of which originated far from the plains of southern Africa…