We had a fleeting glimpse last time of how the beautiful world of animals has also added colour to our day-to-day language. It lends words and expressions in ample amount to make communication expressive and facile. Indeed without them our dictionaries would appear to be so bland. It will be worthwhile to look at some more takeaways for our language from the animal kingdom.
Animal stories are something that children start learning first. They make a lasting impression because of their sheer innocence to which kids can so easily relate to. Piggy is a child’s word for a pig. So they love to have a piggy bank in which they make their small but precious savings. They also have a game called piggy in the middle in which two people throw a ball at each other while the third stands in the middle and tries to catch it. It is also known as monkey in the middle. Figuratively, it means a person caught between two fighting over an issue. On a long walk and tired, your child may have you give her a piggyback, that is, to give her a ride on your back. To piggyback on somebody or something means to take support from someone else or something for your own work because what is required is already there. It is probably because of the basic nature of the animal that pigheaded is used to refer to one who is obstinate, not ready to change his opinion.
Speculation may lead to a bullish or a bearish run at stock exchanges, but if someone is a bull in a china shop, he is a person whose ways are unsocial or uncouth where decency and decorum are required. And when faced with a difficult or dangerous position, you better take the bull by its horns to get out unscathed rather than be an ostrich or suffer from ostrich syndrome, that is, ignore the lurking danger and remain under the false impression that it will not affect you.
It is tempting to go on, but these are enough to send you word hunting. But before I end for the time being, I will again throw in a lagniappe or two.
You know what a pride of lions is. There are a few more in terms of unusual plural forms associated with animals. Here are some interesting ones:
A pod of whales; a gaggle of geese; a parliament of owls; a school of dolphins; a shoal or a school of fish; a litter of puppies; and, of course, a pack of wolves.