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Do you see the bear in ARCTIC?

Did you know that the word ARCTIC is an animalogy? It comes from the root word for “BEAR.”


*the constellation Ursa Major — it means “Great Bear

*the constellation Ursa Major — it means “Little Bear

*the constellation Arcturus — it means “Guardian of the Bear

*the names Ursula and Orsa 

*the names Orson and Arthur

*the word ursine pertaining to the characteristics of bears 

For more, listen to Animalogy Podcast, which is all about the animal-related words and expressions we use every day. 

  • Victoria Hart

    I am thoroughly enjoying your Animalogy podcasts, Colleen. Thank you for those. May I ask what etymology books you highly respect and are most accustomed to referencing? If you’ve mentioned those elsewhere, please forgive my oversight and repost here (or send a private email).

    • Thanks, Victoria! Do you mean etymology in general or the animal-related etymologies (“animalogies”)? OED is my go-to for etymology in general; I have a physical copy (with a magnifying glass!), but I use the online version throughout the day. You can get access to it if you have a library card (or you can pay). I also use Merriam-Webster dictionary as well as Is that a good start? 🙂

      • Victoria Hart

        Thank you for the recommendations, Colleen. Much appreciated! I fancy myself an etymologist; one beyond the “armchair” kind, having no fear of venturing off the beaten path. Like you, I’m a dedicated vegan with a strong passion for etymology and word play. I use OED and often; both are invaluable. I can recommend two excellent (English-focused) resources for you, if you’re interested:

        1. Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English by Eric Partridge

        2. The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (3rd Edition) by Calvert Watkins. Watkins, now deceased, was the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Linguistics and the Classics at Harvard.

        In your reply above, you hint at having a different study tool in regards to animal-related etymologies. Could you pretty-please share that as well? I’m always hungry for a new place of etymological discovery.

        I have an invitation for you, Colleen. As a fellow etymology enthusiast, I’d enjoy a collaboration with you in presenting a common word that all of us are familiar with, but curiously, the animal-related etymology of such has been ignored, buried, or dismissed — for the purpose of control (i.e. mass manipulation?) and comfort of conscience, I would venture to say. The topic is a bold one. Are you up for it? Perhaps we can private message about this. I’m not a Facebook or other online social media member, so I can’t communicate via that route. Do let me know. It would be an honor to share notes with you.

        Been a fan of yours for years. Keep up the great work!

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