This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sunday Rest: Word Not To Use Today: hemipode.

What's a hemipode?

Well, hemi means half, and the pode bit is to do with podos, which means foot.

So. A half-foot...

...nope. No idea at all. What has only half a foot?

Half a slug? 

Whatever it is, the poor thing has the ugliest, heaviest, most clumping name.

As it turns out, the hemipode not only has two feet but also a rather lovely alternative name.

A hemipode is a button quail. Button quails are little round birds that run about in warm grasslands and look very much like ordinary quails, though they're probably really specially adapted shorebirds: that means their aunts and cousins include the avocet, the herring gull, and the jack snipe.

This hemipode is a quail-plover, from Africa.

This is a painted button quail from Southern and Eastern Australia.

Button quails are small but peculiar. Not only do the ladies wear the brightest feathers and keep several husbands at a time, but they also do all the chatting-up, and require the male to do all the hatching and looking after the babies.

How do the females do it? Well, they do have a unique stracture in their chests which means they can make a surprisingly loud booming noise, so I rather suspect it comes down to nagging.

And the half-foot thing? Well, they don't have a hind toe. But, I don't know, that's a bit like calling a rhinoceros a trunkless.

Word Not To Use Today: hemipode. Unless you have koumpounophobia* then button quail is a much brighter and friendlier way of describing the members of the family Turnicidae. 

I mean, you really don't want to get on the wrong side of one of those females, do you.

Hemipode really does mean half-foot in Greek.

*A fear of buttons.

1 comment:

  1. Love this and am going to put link to it on Twitter!