Saturday, June 20, 2009

Knock Me Over With a Feather

While playing golf the other day, my foursome came across an explosion of feathers scattered on the ground near a tee box. Two turkeys had not made it through the night, thanks to a hungry fox or other vigilant predator. What impressed me most was that only feathers were left – not a scrap of flesh or sinew remained.

On a whim, let’s reverse the find and pursue feathers that are hidden, not out in plain sight. This will represent a sample only. Many words are based on the Latin pinna and pluma or the Greek πτερον (pteron).

apterium: Each of the featherless spaces on the skin of a bird intervening between the feathered tracts or pterylæ

bi-pinnate: two-winged

filoplume: thread-feathers that have an extremely slender, almost invisible, stem and usually no vane

impennous: wingless

pennaceous: relating to, of the nature of, or resembling a feather or feathers

penniferous: bearing or producing feathers or feather-like structures; feathered

pennigerous: bearing feathers; feathered

pinnate: resembling a feather; having lateral parts or branches on each side of a common axis, like the vanes of a feather

plumeous: resembling down or fine feathers, feathery

pterotic: winged

ptilosis: The appearance or characteristics of the feathers (esp. the down feathers) of a bird

SIDEBAR: The Feathers Site

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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