This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Word To Use Today: sloth.

Sloth, the unwillingness to work (or, indeed, move) has got itself a bad name.

Actually, what am I saying? It's got a lovely name. Sloth. A  beautiful husky sliding name that couldn't be more relaxed if it was wearing pyjamas and drinking cocoa while watching a re-run of the potter's wheel:

Yes, sloth is a happy thing:

This photograph is by Stefan Laube.

Sloths live in the jungles of Central or South America. They aren't entirely idle, because they spend a lot of time eating. In fact they eat so much that two thirds of a sloth's body-weight consists of the contents of its stomach.

To be fair, though, it can take a month for a sloth to digest the leaves it eats (though sloths do come down to the ground to poo about once a week) so they aren't quite as greedy as they seem.

Sloths spend so much time hanging upside down that you have to stroke them the other way from most animals, from the feet towards the back. I don't know if you'd want to stroke a sloth, though, because a sloth's fur is covered with green bacteria. This makes them hard to see (though keeping still so much of the time helps with this, too).

Not that sloths can't move if they need to. A sloth in danger can cover, ooh, as much as four metres a minute - though of course they're slower on the ground.

Oh, and just in case of confusion: the Two-Toed Sloth does of course have three toes.*

Word To Use Today: sloth. This word comes from  Old English word slǣth, from slǣw, which means slow.

*It has two fingers, though.

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