Monday, November 02, 2009


i have heard the word "pachederm" (pronounced like PACK-uh-derm) used in reference to elephants, but i never questioned where this word came from or whether it applies to just elephants. i considered it analogous to canine, feline, bovine, etc. for relating to dogs, cats, cows, etc. it turns out the latin word "pachedermata" means "thick-skinned" and applies to elephants, rhinoceroses, and hippopotamuses! they all are thick skinned.

the two questions that i would pull out of this are:
  1. isn't the plural of hippopotamus "hippopotami"? and
  2. can this term apply to pumba?

bonus etymology! hippos is actually greek for horse, while potamus translates to river

1 comment:

  1. Haven't you ever heard the song "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas?" It provides a clear example of the animal's plural form :) And yes, I think Pumba would proudly count himself among the pachedermata. I thought it was just elephants too. Thanks for the clarification :)