Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Meaning: ant eating

Usefulness: 3 (Unless you work in a zoo, the only practical application I've come up with is to describe the suggestive Antz Pantz ad of the 1980s. Although as an insult "How myrmecophagous of you" could mean just about anything.)

Logofascination: 1 (Sir Thomas would approve of its construction: myrmeco-, meaning ant, and -phagous, eating, are both from Greek via Latin. I liked it so much that I resisted the more topical hippophagous.)

In the wild: Myrmecophagine appears on a glorious wordnik list, which includes another favourite, cricetine - relating to hamsters.

Degrees: 2 (Probably)

Connections: myrmecophagous - myrmidon (according to fable, the Myrmidons had previously been ants, but the OED calls this etymology 'playful' in one entry and 'pseudo-etymological' in another, so I'd take it with a grain of salt.)

Which is used in: G&P, Book the Second, XI: How the Lords of Kissbreech and Suckfist did plead before Pantagruel without an attorney. This chapter of nonsense, and indeed the Myrmidons themselves, have been discussed previously, but here's the line:
The babbling tattle and fond fibs seditiously raised between the gibblegabblers and Accursian gibberish-mongers for the rebellion of the Switzers, who had assembled themselves to the full number of the bumbees and myrmidons to go a-handsel-getting on the first day of the new year. 
Although knowing now that the myrmidons may also be an ant reference, the pairing of bumbees and myrmidons makes slightly more sense.

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