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Thread: Scientific Adjectives

  1. #1

    Scientific Adjectives

    If you want to impress somebody who is a scientist, you need to learn how to use scientific adjectives. For example, as Sir J. Barrow said, “The shoulders, body, things, and mane are equine; the head completely bovine“. That should turn the head and gain the admiration of any self-respecting scientist.

    The English language is remarkable in having coopted both Greek and Latin in providing adjectives that ascribe specific states. For example, instead of saying horse-like behavior, you say “equine“ behavior. Equine comes from the latin word equinus and the french word equus, meaning to resemble a horse, of or belonging to the family Equide. Bovine of course means of or pertaining to the genus Bos, relating to or resembling the ox or cow, ox-like.

    Many zoonic (pertaining to animals) adjectives are well-known and used. For example, avian and canine of course stand for bird-like and dog-like respectively. Everybody knows that elephantine and serpentine mean to be elephant-like and serpent-like respectively. Some may even know that to be porcine is to be pig-like. Many can probably guess that to be asinine is to be ass-like. And some may remember that ursa major refers to the big bear in the sky and therefore ursine means bear-like.

    What are less commonly used zoonic adjectives? If you use the following words, you may get approving glances from scientists. The adjective for mouse is murine. This word also can refer to rats but, if you say murine antibodies, you are talking about antibodies from mouse. Cervine is deer-like; lupine is wolf-like (anybody who has read Harry Potter knows this), vulpine is fox-like; selachian refers to sharks, rays, and skates; leporine refers to rabbits or hares; and pavonine refers to peacocks. The word corvine refers to crows and the word raven itself means rapacity. Anserine is to be gooselike. And, ovine is sheep-like.

    There is web site called Phrontistery (meaning a thinking place) where somebody has compiled perhaps the longest list of relational adjectives starting with abbatial (relating to abbots or abbey) and ending with zymotic (relating to fermentation). From this list, there are many additional species adjectives (excellent for scrabble games and intimate postprandial conversations). I added the ones listed above.
    • alaudine is skylark-like
    • alcine is elk-like or auk-like
    • alopecoid is fox-like (vulpine is the better word)
    • anatine is duck-like
    • anguine is snake-like
    • anserine is to be goose-like
    • apian is bee-like
    • araneidan is spider-like
    • aquiline is eage-like
    • arietine is ram-like
    • asinine is ass-like
    • avian is bird-like, also ornithic
    • batrachan is frog- or toad-like
    • bisontine is to be bison-like
    • bdelloid is to be leech-like
    • blattoid is to be cockroach-like
    • bombic is to be silkworm-like
    • bovine is to be ox- or cow-like
    • bubaline is to be buffalo- or antelope-like
    • bueonine is to be buzzard-like
    • caballine is to be horse-like (equine is the better word)
    • cameline is to be camel-like
    • cancrine is to be crab-like
    • canine is to be dog-like
    • catarrhine is like old world monkeys
    • cercopithecan is like long-tailed monkeys
    • cervine is to be deer-like
    • chelonian is to be turtle- or tortoise-like
    • ciconian is to be stork-like, also pelargic
    • cnidarian is jelly-fish and anemone-like (great insult)
    • columbine or columbaceous is to be dove- or pigeon-like
    • corvine is to be crow-like
    • crotaline is to be rattlesnake-like
    • cuculine is to be cuckoo-like (Shakespeare would love this one)
    • cyprinoid is to be carp-like
    • cypseline is to be swift-like
    • delphinine is to be dolphin-like
    • didelphane is to be opossum-like
    • didine is to be dodo-like
    • discophoran is to be jelly-fish like
    • edentate is be be toothless, like aardvarks and sloths
    • elaphine is to be like the red deer
    • elapid is to be cobra-like
    • elephantine is to be elephant-like
    • entomical is to be insect-like
    • equine is to be horse-like, also hippoid and hippic
    • eusuchian is to be alligator- and crocodile-like
    • falconine is to be falcon- or hawk-like
    • formic is to ant-like
    • fringilline or fringillaceous is ant-like
    • fuliguline is seaduck-like
    • gadoid is to be cod-like
    • gallinaceous is to be pheasant-like or relating to domestic fowl
    • glirine to be rodent-like
    • grallatory is to be related to wading birds
    • gruine is to like or pertaining to cranes or similar birds
    • halcyonine is to be like kingfishers
    • halolimnic is to be like freshwater fish
    • herpetoid is to be snake-like, also colubrine
    • hircine is goat-like, also caprine
    • hirudine is leech-like, also hirudinean
    • hirundine is swallow-like, also passerine
    • hylobatine is gibbon-like
    • hystricine is porcupine-like
    • ichthyic is fish-like
    • leporine is to be hare- or rabbit-like
    • lacertilian is lizard-like
    • lampyridine is firefly-like or glowworm-like
    • larine is gull-like, also laroid
    • leonine is lion-like
    • lemurine is to be lemur-like
    • limacine is slug-like
    • limicoline is to be like wading birds
    • lumbricine is to be like earthworms
    • lupine is to be wolf-like
    • lutrine is otter-like
    • macropodine is kangaroo-like
    • megachiropteran is fruitbat-like
    • meleagrine is turkey-like
    • milvine is to be kite-like, or similar birds
    • murine is to be mouse-like
    • muscicapine is to be like flycatchers, or similar birds
    • musteline is weasel-, marten-, or badger-like
    • muscid is to be housefly-like
    • myoxine is to be dormice-like
    • myrmecophagid is anteater-like
    • natricine is watersnake-like
    • oscinine is to be songbird-like
    • ostracean is oyster-like, also ostraceous
    • otarine is seal-like, also sigillary
    • ovine is sheep-like
    • papilionaceous is butterfly-like
    • pardine is leopard-like
    • pavonian is peacock like, also pavonine
    • pedicular is lice-like
    • peristeronic is pigeon-like, see columbine
    • phacochoerine is warthog-like
    • philomelian is nightingale-like
    • phocine is seal-like, see otarine
    • picine is woodpecker-like
    • piscine is fish-like
    • porcine is pig-like
    • procyonine is racoon-like
    • psittacine is macaw-, parakeet-, or parrot-like
    • pteropine is flyfox-like
    • pulicine is flea-like
    • pullastrine is pigeon-like, see columbine
    • pyrrhuline is bullfinch-like
    • ranine is frog-like
    • raptorial is to be like a bird of prey
    • ratite is to be like a flightless bird
    • reptilian is to be like a reptile
    • rhinocerotic is to be like a rhinoceros
    • scincoid is to be skink-like
    • sciurine is to be squirrel-like, also sciuroid
    • selachian is to be shark-, ray-, and skate-like, also squaloid
    • serpentine is to be serpent-like, also ophic or ophidian (serpent)
    • simian is to be ape-like
    • soricine is to be shrew-like
    • strigine is to be owl-like
    • struthious is ostrich-like
    • suidian or suilline is hog-like, see porcine
    • taurean or taurine is bull-like
    • theroid is to be like a beast or wild animal
    • tigrine is to be tiger-like
    • tolypeutine is armadillo-like
    • tringoid is sandpiper-like
    • trochilidine is hummingbird-like
    • troglodytine is wren-like
    • turdine is thrush-like
    • ursine is bear-like
    • vespal is wasp-like, also vespine
    • viperine is like a viper
    • vitular is to be calf-like, or giving birth to a calf
    • viverrine is to be like civets or mongoose
    • volucrine is to be bird-like
    • vulpecular is to be like a young fox
    • vulpine is to be fox-like
    • vulturine is to be like a vulture
    • zebrine is zebra-like

    By the way, myelic means spinal cord-like and rachidian is spine-like.

    Wise.
    Last edited by Wise Young; 05-21-2007 at 01:22 AM.

  2. #2
    Banned adi chicago's Avatar
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    most medical terms and law terms are teached from centuries from latin.
    i feel sorry for people who dont understand those terms.
    but i know that aquila non capit muscas.
    or divide et empera.etc.
    thank you dr.wise more people [usa]must learn more then one language [english or spanish].
    Last edited by adi chicago; 05-20-2007 at 09:44 PM.
    • Dum spiro, spero.
      • Translation: "As long as I breathe, I hope."

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    The word corvine refers to crows and the word raven itself means rapacity.
    Wise.
    Well, although I do use the name of "Raven", I do not think I am all rapacious since I don't take by force or plunder. I do however get ravenous when I see something I want to eat. Particularly when it is Mexican food.

    Just teasing with you Wise.

    It is good to see all the ways we can describe other than using the words we tend at times to use more often. While writing at times, I seem at a loss to find the perfect words to describe either my thoughts or feelings at times. Then last night I saw on TV on a christian channel the words used in Psalms 18. I was amazed at how King David wrote his description of God and His way of answering David's prayer. I wish I could write like he did.

    Thank you for this thread Wise. Will be checking back on it for inspiration.

    Raven

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Raven View Post
    Well, although I do use the name of "Raven", I do not think I am all rapacious since I don't take by force or plunder. I do however get ravenous when I see something I want to eat. Particularly when it is Mexican food.

    Just teasing with you Wise.

    It is good to see all the ways we can describe other than using the words we tend at times to use more often. While writing at times, I seem at a loss to find the perfect words to describe either my thoughts or feelings at times. Then last night I saw on TV on a christian channel the words used in Psalms 18. I was amazed at how King David wrote his description of God and His way of answering David's prayer. I wish I could write like he did.

    Thank you for this thread Wise. Will be checking back on it for inspiration.

    Raven
    I miss Raven. Wise.

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