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 September 2016

Word To Use Today: quetzal.

Here's a nice crisp word for a hot day. (If it is a hot day: it certainly is when I'm writing this.)

Anyway, quetzal.

You probably already know that a quetzal is a bird:

a male Resplendent Quetzal

but did you know that, as well as being the national bird of Guatemala, it's the country's standard monetary unit, too?

Quetzals eat fruit and wasps (I don't know if they actually mean to eat the wasps), as well as frogs and larvae, and they're particularly partial to a wild avocado.

Quetzals have been worshipped as gods of the air and wealth (their feathers have been very valuable from time to time) and freedom (because until recently they've always died in captivity). They've also been associated with the snake god quetzalcoatl (the coatl bit means serpent):

Mayan legend says that the quetzal helped fight the Spanish conquistadores, and that before the conquest of Latin America by the Spanish the quetzal used to sing beautifully, but that it will never sing again until the land is truly free (the noise it makes now has been likened to a whimpering puppy).

Finally, as well as being gods, quetzals are equal-opportunity birds.  Quetzals share the child-care, the male generally doing the day-shift when it comes to hatching the eggs, and the female the night-shift.

All that, and just so very beautiful, too:

Pharomachrus auriceps, Golden-headed Quetzal.jpg

Photo of Golden-headed Quetzal (apparently, though I see no gold on the head) by Joao Quental - Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

Terrific beasts, anyway.

Thing To Consider Today: the quetzal. The plural of this word can be either quetzals or quetzales, and the word comes from the Nahuatl quetzalli, which means large brilliant tail feather. The quetz bit means stand.

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