This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 2 October 2015

Word To Use Today: griffon or griffin or gryphon.

For someone like me this word is a relief: I mean, you can spell it pretty much how you like.

Griffon, griffin, gryphon...even if you get muddled up and plump for a gryphin, who's going to be certain enough that it's wrong to complain?

The great thing is that any of the official spellings can be used to describe a magnificent winged creature with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion.

(That's Alice's gryphon, drawn by Sir John Tenniel)

 Please note that a griffon doesn't have fingers, which might account for it not being bothered about spelling. This is lucky, because you really wouldn't want to bother a griffin. Or a gryphon, either.

Some griffins, sadly, are fussier. The griffins who are newcomers to the Orient insist on just the one spelling.

Some griffons are fussy, too: both the Belgian dogs:

File:Brussels Griffon Rembrant.png
(The Hess Family's photo of Brussels Griffon Rembrant, owned by Nancy Brooks)

 and the Old World vultures:

File:Ruppell's griffon vulture - Rueppell's Griffon (Gyps rueppellii) - Flickr - Lip Kee.jpg
(photo by Lip Kee of a Rueppel's Griffon Vulture)

insist on an i and the o.

I suppose you can't blame them. 

But it is a pity, all the same.

Word to spell today: gryphon, griffin, griffon. The word meaning half-eagle-half-lion creature comes from the French grifon, from the Latin grČ³phus, from the Greek grupos, which means hooked. No one knows where the newcomer to the Orient word comes from, but the dog and the vulture are named after the eagle-lion beast.

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