This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 8 July 2013

Spot the Frippet: pollex.

Unless you know a word for something you can't think about it.

Or so some foolish people say.

That's clearly not true (what's the word for the taste of ice cream that's just beginning to melt at the edges in the sun?) but it's certainly true that knowing a word for something brings it to the attention.

I've never thought about pollices (neat plural, huh?), but now I realise they're all around me.

And what are they?

A pollex is a lizard's thumb.

Or a bird's thumb, for that matter; or a frog's, or a fox's.

Okay, birds and frogs and foxes and lizards don't actually have thumbs as we know them, but a pollux is the inside digit on the forelimb of any animal that, digits on its forelimbs. (Yes, yes, I know birds don't have forelimbs: a bird's pollices are hidden inside its wings).

But the pollices of lots of animals are plainly visible.

A possum, displaying its pollices.

That goes for gorillas, dogs - and you, too.

Though this is a bonobo.

I feel rather pleased and proud, myself.

Spot the frippet. This is so easy that perhaps we ought to be spotting a pollex on a different species of animal from us. Pollex is the Latin for thumb.

Pollex gives us the lovely adjective pollical.

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