Great, funny, or weird species names in other languages

That is amazing, thank you! I really love this name. Delicious has similar connotations in English, could be very tasty or something extremely pleasing, delightful. The word porost also derives from something that grows (rosnąć), or grows over something (porastać), that is what I got my translation from.

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My favorite is a french common name for dandelions*: pissenlit. That word comes from “pisse en lit”, which translates to “pee in bed”. Dandelion is apparently a diuretic :)

*the word dandelion itself comes from the french, “dent de lion” which means “lion’s tooth”. That refers to the shape of the leaves. It’s not nearly as interesting/funny though.

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Talking about french names, I learned that the genus name Lycoperdon of puffball mushrooms is literally translated into French (vesse-de-loup) and Spanish (pedo de lobo) - all three terms have the meaning ‘wolf’s fart’.

(As a side note, that mushroom is edible but maybe many people in those countries are deterred by its name :upside_down_face:)

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Oh, that reminded me - Bovista in Lithuanian is vilktabokė: wolf’s tobacco. And generally all kinds of puffballs are often called kukurbezdalis - also a word derived from farting.

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lol, that is awesome!!! I have no idea what the connection to wolves are, but people are apparently obsessed with wolves. I did a quick search, and Tom Volk (a mycologist) says the following here:

The pinkish spheres to the back are Lycogala , the wolf’s milk slime mold, likely so named for its resemblance to the mammary glands of wolves (where do mycologists come up with this stuff?). The green plant to the left is Lycopodium , wolf’s foot, a primitive seedless vascular plant sometimes known as club moss, even though it’s not a moss at all. The tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum , the “wolf’s peach.”

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Well, then we have the Wolf’s bane for Aconitum, and in German, the members of the Genus Euphorbia (spurges) are generally named Wolf’s milk (because of the poisonous milky sap)

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Inspired by the thread Funny, long, or just plain weird animal names, which contains mostly English names, I thought I’d create this thread for sharing memorably weird names from other languages as well (with translations of course, so every one can enjoy).

I’ll start with some of my Danish favourites:

  • kæmpefluen Harald (“the giant fly Harald”; named after a chubby professor) - Tachina grossa
  • mellemfluen Oskar (“the medium fly Oskar”; inspired by the above name) - Tachina fera
  • den vandrette sæk (“the horizontal sack”) - the moth Bacotia claustrella
  • rød ninja (“red ninja”) - the spider Zelotes electus
  • dræbersnegl (“killer slug”; nothing particularly murderous about it, but many garden owners really hate them) Arion vulgaris

Also, turtles are called skildpadder (“shield amphibians”) which has the unfortunate consequence that many Danes assume turtles to be amphibians.

Looking forward to reading yours!

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Two of my favourite German ones are:

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Cool! We also call the coconut crab palm thief (“palmetyv” in Danish).

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I just today discovered the existence of Minute Pirate Bugs. https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/174592-Anthocoridae

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I’ve always felt Little Nipple Cactuses had an unusual name.

The flies from the subfamily Phlebotominae (in english are called Sandflies; they are biting flies that transmit diseases like Leishmaniasis) are called “beatas” or “beatillas” in spanish, meaning something like “female saint” or “holy” in english. Very weird and/or ironic.

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One of my favourites is the name for a Striped Skunk in Quebec French, “bête puante” which translates to stinky beast. Moufette is the usual name in Quebec French.
The other kind of local names I think are brilliant are the ones that are based on the sound an animal makes like:
“Ouaouaron” (= Bullfrog) which, if you pronounce the name in Quebec French is the sound that the bullfrog makes. According to the Wiki this came from the Wendat language into Quebec French.

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I am very happy to come across this revived topic!

My favourite for te reo Mа̄ori has to be tokoeka or ‘weka with a walking stick’

Hoiho are aptly named ‘noisy/loud shouter’

Ruru / morepork is funny as well; both the names in te reo and English are representative of their call, and you can hear each if you have the name sitting in your head, despite being so different.

I think the touch-me-not has a pretty funny name. One time my friend was in the woods touching one, and he asked me what it was. So I told him.

“A touch-me-NOT?!”

He freaked out for a second, it made me laugh.

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/47889-Impatiens

Least Weaselsnout. It’s the English name for a plant.

The bird genus Leiothrix, in Chinese is called 相思鳥, which translates (roughly) “birds that care for each other.” The only explanation I can think of is, when I was stationed in Hawaii, as soon as one appeared, scolding me, there would soon be ring of them surrounding me, presumably drawn in by the one.

And the Taiwan barbet is called in Chinese 五色鳥, which means “five-color bird.”

The national bird of the Dominican Republic is the palmchat. In Spanish it is called cigua palmera – palmera means “of palms,” of course, but cigua is a word from the indigenous Taino language that means sea snail. Why would a land bird have a name that means sea snail? Stranger still is that the same bird occurs in Haiti, where it is called l’esclave palmiste – the palm slave!

And can anyone explain to me why the Jamaican term for hummingbird is doctorbird?