Word of the day – proboscitude


proboscitude, adjective = the condition of having a long flexible prehensile trunk.

From proboscis, noun = a long flexible prehensile trunk or snount, as of an elephant; the elongated mouthparts of cetain insects, adapted for piercing and sucking food

Origin: via Latin from Greek προβοσκις (proboskis) – trunk of an elephant, from βοσκειν (boskein) – to feed

I’ve just started reading “The Ancestor’s Tale – A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution” by Richard Dawkins. In the introduction he explains why he has chosen to tell the story of evolution starting with humans and working backwards: he says it’s natural for a human to do it this way. If an elephant was telling the tale, he or she would most likely start with elephants then look for their ancestors “on the main trunk road of evolution”. He goes on to speculate that:

“Elephant astronomers might wonder whether, on some other world, there exist alien life forms that have crossed the nasal rubicon and taken the final leap to full proboscitude.”

Proboscitude is such a wonderful word that I thought I’d share it with you.

Other English words for nose are also interesting, and include conk, hooter, schozzle and snout.

“To be nosey” or “to stick one’s nose where it doesn’t belong” are both used to describe unwelcome curiosity in the doings of others. Do the equivalent idioms in other languages involve noses? If not, are there any nose-related idioms that mean something else?

This entry was posted in English, Language, Words and phrases.

10 Responses to Word of the day – proboscitude

  1. TJ says:

    β in fact is “V” but almost in scientific terms, everyone translates it as “B.” Same goes for “δ” where most people say it is “delta” but it is in fact “thelta” (heavy TH). Just imagine what kind of reforms we need to do to our everyday lives just to fix these 2 pronunciations? :)

  2. Mike says:

    I’ve often seen “β” used in place of “ß” in texts and webpages. But I don’t think the German word “Straße” is pronounced as “shtra-b/vuh” ;)

  3. TJ says:

    nein es ist nur auf griechisch! Tätslich, der “ß” ist völlig anders als “β” bei der Form!
    hmm … war meine Grammatik gut?!
    Ich hoffe daß Deutsch gedurft ist!

  4. TJ says:

    OPS! Tatsächlich!

  5. Sot1006 says:

    Well, that may be true about proper modern day pronounciation, but these Greek derivations actually come from Ancient Greek, hence some different vocabulary and uses CLASSICAL PRONOUNIATION. Back in ancient times, they were pronounced b and d respectively, but through history and time, those sounds have come to soften and evolve into what they are today to our familiar modern Greek ‘v’ and ‘dh’

  6. LAttilaD says:

    Yes, there is at least idiom involving the nose. In Hungarian, beleüti az orrát (he/she sticks the nose into it) is the same as the English idiom you’ve mentioned.

    Láng Attila D.

  7. Benjamin says:

    In German there is the expression “seine Nase in Dinge stecken, die einen nichts angehen” that goes in the same direction as “to be nosey”. But it translates roughly as “to nose into something that doesn’t concern you”. I hope that this translation is correct and understandable.

    Ich denke mal, du DARFST schon Deutsch reden, aber dann verstehen es halt nicht alle. Simon allerdings schon. Hoffe ich. Denke ich. ;-)

  8. k says:

    In russian there is the same idiom “suvat’ nos ne v svoi dela” – to put one’s nose in someone else’s buiseness

  9. céline says:

    “Stick one’s nose where it doesn’t belong” has a direct equivalent in French: “Fourrer son nez là où il ne faut pas”.

  10. The “stick one’s nose” club has a new member. ;-) In Italian, the expression is ficcare il naso, with an identical meaning. And ficcanaso is either the noun or the adjective which a nosy, indiscreet person is addressed with.