This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sunday Rest: detritivore. Word Not To Use Today

A detritivore eats, yes, detritus.


The word detritivore's use is usually restricted to those useful animals which tidy away all the various droppings of the rest of us, such a millipedes:

File:Millipede mating.JPG
photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim

(these are being particularly loving, ahhhh...)


File:Purple emperor (Apatura iris) female.jpg
photo by Charlesjsharp Sharp Photography, sharpphotography

(if you want to lure a Purple Emperor butterfly like this closer then what you really need is a nice fresh bit of dog poo. Yum!)

or crabs:

File:Fiddler Crab - Australia.jpg
photo by Denise Chan

(that's a fiddler crab).

As I say, we owe these creatures a huge debt of gratitude, and calling them detritivores is, I think, rather unkind. (There're also called detritiphages, but that's even worse.) I think we should call them housekeepers or cleaners or something that shows some gratitude and respect.

Ah well. I suppose in many instances we can always fall back on teenager, can't we.

Word Not To Use Today: detritivore. This word comes from the French détritus, from the Latin dētritus, a rubbing away. The -vore bit is from the Latin vorāre to swallow up. 

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