This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Spot the frippet: antler.

There are more places than you might think where you can spot an antler.

Some are obvious:

(This is what I call an elk, but in the New World I understand it's called a moose. The brilliant thing about these antlers is that they act as hearing aids. No, really. An elk has natural ear trumpets.)

There are also smaller antlers like this:

That's a stag beetle.

There are even, or so it appears, rabbits with antlers. These are called jackalopes.

Hm...not entirely convinced about those.

Antlers are wonderful things wherever you find them. They are the fastest-growing bones anywhere, and take so much energy to make that a deer with big antlers really is fit in every sense of the word.


The Abbots Bromley Horn Dancers must be quite fit, too. They are to be seen every year in Staffordshire.

Reindeer antlers (New World caribou) are unusual in that they appear on the females, too. They're useful for sweeping away snow and fighting over tasty bits of lichen.

Oh, and one last thing. The antlers of male reindeer fall off in early December: so Rudolf and friends were all ladies.

Spot the frippet: antler. This word comes from the Middle English hauntelere, from the Old French antoillier. Some people have suggested that before that it comes from the Vulgar Latin rare ante ocularis, meaning branch before the eyes, but if you'll believe that you'll believe anything.

Even jackalopes.

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