July 26, 2013
- mongoose (noun)
- What does it mean?
- : any of various quick-moving mammals with a long slender body and long tail that are about the size of a ferret and feed chiefly on small animals and fruit
- How do you use it?
- ". . . it is impossible for a mongoose to stay frightened for any length of time, and though Rikki-tikki had never met a live cobra before, his mother had fed him on dead ones, and he knew that all a grown mongoose's business in life was to fight and eat snakes." (Rudyard Kipling, _The Jungle Book_)
- Are you a word wiz?
"Mongoose" came into English from another language. In what country do you think that language is the primary spoken language?"Mongoose" came into English from Hindi, a language of northern India. In the late 1600s English speakers borrowed the Hindi word "magus"--which eventually became our "mongoose"--to refer to these members of the civet family that are found in Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. A cheetah is another animal you've likely heard of whose name also comes from Hindi. You may not have heard of a sambar, a large Asian deer, the males of which have strong 3-pointed antlers and long coarse hair on the throat. The name "sambar" comes from Hindi as well.