Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hog heaven


Hog heaven

Last week we took an initial look at ungulates. This week we’ll start with the observation that the idiom hog heaven came into use about 1940, then we’ll look into a few words that define the more hog-like ungulates.

The word swine, meaning pig, hog or wild boar, applies too all the hog-like critters below. Swine showed up in English before English was English, and come from the Proto-Germanic word swinan. The word sow, referring to the female pig is closely related to the word swine & has been around as long.

The word hog has been a part of the English language since the 1100s. Interestingly, hog originally referred to the age of a critter, and was applied to what we now call hogs, horses and sheep when they were about a year old. It wasn’t until 1400 or so that sheep and horses left the word hog behind. Within the next century hog also began to mean a gluttonous person. A gathering of hogs has been known as a drift, a piggery & a hoggery.

The origin of the word pig is a bit of a mystery. It was in use in Old English (spelled pigc), & referred only to young pigs, while the mature ones were called swine. Words for gatherings of pigs include litter, farrow, drove, cote, sounder & team.

The javelina is also known as a peccary, a native of Mexico and the southwest United States. The word javelina came to English in 1815 through Spanish from Arabic, where the word jabal i meant mountain swine. The word peccary, on the other hand, entered in English in 1610 from one of the Carib languages (most likely Venezuelan or Guianan). A gathering of javelinas or peccaries is known as a sounder.

What have you to say about all this ungulation?


Big thanks to this week’s sources: David W. K. Godrich’s A Gaggle of Geese, Wordnik, Ultimate Ungulate, Etymonline, & the OED.

6 comments:

  1. Charlie, I am in love with the word piggery. It's to die for. Am immediately adding it to my vocabulary. What a fun read. Over and out. Paul

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  2. Hey Paul,
    May you revel in the word piggery without finding yourself in the midst of one.

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  3. I love the word piggery, too! Drift, however, is an odd one. "A drift of hogs" is hard to picture. Maybe it's when they are those flying pigs of legendary rarity. A sounder of javelinas would be quite exotic.

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  4. Hi Anne - another piggery fan. Brava to that. And I'm sorry I neglected to look into those legendary flying pigs.

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  5. OK,OK, I know a thing or eight about pigs/hogs/swine/boars, etc., having been one. Some say I still am one (at least). They mean it as an insult, but little do they know how little they know. Not only are pigs smarter than the average bear, but also apparently smarter than the average person (human or corporate). We at least now better than to conduct frequent, if not ubiquitous, war. (the average Nebraskan or Idahoan likely does not know of or wherever ubiquity, also known in Tennessee as ubiquitousness.) Nor do piggies like moi trash our environment, despite our ill-gotten reputation. Mud is merely our means for cooling off; we do not need an entire pool of formerly potable water to achieve this. I could go on, but I've probably boared (sic) my audience to swinish tears.

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  6. Dearest Mr. Wurst,
    Thank you for the diatribe. You did a swine job.

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