Silly names that are actually in use for animals

I’ve often heard of hippos being called river horses.

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I’ve heard manatees being called sea cows. :-)

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I don’t have the evidence to back up my claim, but I think the Chinese translation is directly borrowed from the meaning of the genus Hippopotamus, which literally translates to “river horse” or “horse of the river” in Ancient Greek or something.

And speaking of manatees, they indeed are often known as sea cows. The chinese name for them is 海牛 which literally translates to “sea cow”!

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“Cat-headed-eagle” (猫头鹰) is for all owls, not just Horned Owls.

I’ve heard that “Butterfly” is a pronunciation change from “Flutter-by”, but that may just be folk entomology.

All of those are interesting, but I’m trying to stick with names from English, or that have been adopted into English.

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Cool!

I heard somewhere that the used to be called “flutterby”, but it got mixed up somehow ;)

River horse, yes. In German thy’re known as “Flusspferd”, which translates to the same thing.

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Many similarities to German - they are called the same here, or, in the case of the Pandas, they wre formerly put into the family ‘cat-bears’

I made a separate topic for translations of species names from other languages here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/great-or-funny-species-names-in-other-languages/10910

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Well, it depends. I like how so many duck species have their proper names in English, as well as there is such a great diversity of cool moth names.

On the other hand, talking about creativity:
These are not fish: starfish, jellyfish, crayfish, cuttlefish…
These are not flies: dragonfly, butterfly, firefly, sawfly…
and little brown birds are just warblers - no matter which family they belong to or in what habitat they live in.

In most of these cases, German is more accurate, so it is more a matter of what you focus on.

And talking about a silly name: Deer is quite simply derived from the word for animal (cognate to german ‘Tier’)

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Re: Fireflies…they are also called lightning bugs, which is a pretty fanciful name

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I don’t know how widely this is used, but a sparrow or something similar, moving too fast for a precise observation, is a “Small Brown Job”.

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I’d always heard it as LBB (Little Brown Bird). Same difference.

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I know someone who calls Alpine choughs “Pommes Geier” which is German and means literally “French fries vulture.” This person pretends that Alpine choughs steal food especially French fries.

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That’s cute, and funny.

LBJ, Little Brown Job and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

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When I went to Switzerland, we looked up Alpine choughs because my mum is a massive corvid fan. The information we found stated that tourists were a major source of food for choughs - presumably the tourists’ lunches, not that the choughs are know to eat tourists.

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I love how that sounds out loud!!

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This is the way I know it too. Also Lady Bird I suppose.

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well, mariquita, ladybird in spanish (Coleóptera: Coccinellidae) literally is the diminutive for marica, or sissy in Spanish lol, but in Chile, ladybird are chinitas, the diminutive for a female chineses

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How about silly scientific names? G.C.K Dunsterville often waxed rhapsodic about scientific names. I recall one article he wrote in the American Orchid Society Bulletin about the genus Ada, that included a species aa, so the full name as Ada aa. In the course of the article he also mentioned a wasp with a hugely long name that I, of course, don’t remember. However, as counterpoint, he also mentioned a wasp with a short name, Aha ha.

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Torilis arvensis - tall sock destroyer, unsurprisingly, T. nodosa is the short sock destroyer. Both are 100% accurate.

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