Aug
06
2010

What are the other animal words like “canine” and “feline”?

An asinine donkey (photo by malias - CC-BY)

Most people are familiar with the words canine (relating to dogs) and feline (relating to cats), but many other animals or animal groups get their own adjective. These are called collateral adjectives, and are generally derived from the genitive form of the Latin genus name. Here is a list of collateral adjectives.

  • Ant: myrmecine.
  • Bear: ursine. Think of the constellation Ursa Major.
  • Cat: Feline. The “big cats” (leopard, lion, tiger etc) are not feline; they have their own adjectives.
  • Cattle: bovine. The American bison, or buffalo, is also bovine. So are oxen.
  • Chicken: galline.
  • Chimpanzee: panine.
  • Deer: cervine.
  • Dog: canine. A coyote is also canine.
  • Dolphin: delphine.
  • Fish: piscine.
  • Fox: vulpine.
  • Frog: ranine.
  • Goat: hircine.
  • Horse: equine. Think of equestrian sporting events.
  • Leopard: pardine.
  • Lion: leonine. Think of Leo the lion.
  • Mouse: murine. Rats are also murine.
  • Pig: porcine. Think of pork.
  • Rabbit: leporine. Hares are also leporine.
  • Sheep: ovine.
  • Snake: serpentine or viperine.
  • Spider: arachnine.
  • Swan: cygnine.
  • Tiger: tigrine.
  • Wasp: vespine.
  • Wolf: lupine. Think of Professor Lupin, the part-time werewolf in Harry Potter.

Here are some that don’t end in -ine. As it happens, they all end in -an:

  • Ape: simian. Gorillas and monkeys are also simian.
  • Bee: apian. Think of an apiary (where beehives are kept).
  • Bird: avian. Think of aviation.
  • People: human.
  • Worm: vermian. Think of vermicelli, the worm-shaped pasta.

Here are some that, to me at least, seem faintly ridiculous:

  • Antelope: antilopene.
  • Bluebird: turdine.
  • Cockroach: blattid (after you squash it).
  • Dove: columbine.
  • Deer: elaphine (but an elephant is elephantine).
  • Jellyfish: sycophozan.
  • Lyrebird: menurine.
  • Hedgehog: hystricine.

Finally, one that is sometimes also applied to people or their actions:

  • Donkey: asinine

Oh, and if someone says you have an aquiline nose, it means it’s shaped like an eagle’s beak.

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