Word of the Week: Equine

LET’S talk about animals. I’m thinking, first and foremost, of Boxer, that loyal and not-very-bright workhorse from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Christopher Hitchens, the English essayist and literary critic, whose words grace the introduction of my hardcover copy of Animal Farm, hails him as “noble” yet cursed with “pathos and tragedy” because of his “dumb, equine bravery.”

That’s the line I was parsing with both my Animal Farm students last week, and “equine” found its way immediately into their word power book.

equine (adj)
. of, relating to, or affecting horses or other members of the horse family: equine infectious anemia.
. resembling a horse: her somewhat equine features.

As soon as we figured out its meaning and how to pronounce it, I thought, Let’s horse around with other animal adjectives, and happily, Justin’s vocabulary grew by another six more words, while Becky’s notched up four since she was already acquainted with canine and feline.

Here’s our gathering of animals rendered as adjectives:

canine (adj) ~KAY-nine
of, relating to, or resembling a dog or dogs: canine distemper virus.

feline (adj) ~ FEE-line
. of, relating to, or affecting cats or other members of the cat family: feline leukemia.
. catlike, especially in beauty or slyness: her face was feline in shape.

avian (adj) ~ AY-vee-en
of or relating to birds: avian tuberculosis.

bovine (adj) ~ BOH-vine
. of, relating to, or affecting cattle: bovine tuberculosis | bovine tissue.
. (of a person) slow-moving and dull-witted: amiable bovine faces.

porcine (adj) ~ POR-sign or POR-seen
of, affecting, or resembling a pig or pigs: his flushed, porcine features.

ursine (adj) ~ ER-sign or ER-sin
of, relating to, or resembling bears.

For help on pronunciation, visit our go-to web page: howyasay.com


I invite you to write to me at  viv@mywritinghome.com if you have any word ideas you’d like to share.

  • Our previous “Word of the Week”: Bigwig Next up: Stemwinder
  • If you like our “Word of the Week” posts, you might also enjoy our “How to Pronounce It” series.

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