A Moo-ving Tail
We held a practice
session today for the upcoming Traverse City Senior Citizen Spelling Bee. One
of the words pulled drew hoots from the participants because of its rarity. The
word was the adjective mugient. It is obsolete, but it meant lowing or
bellowing. An equally rare word was the noun mugiency, the act of bellowing.
It comes from the Latin mugire, to bellow, and the Latin word may well have
been onomatopoeic—an imitation of the sound that a cow or steer makes. In fact,
the Oxford English Dictionary
links it to the English moo.
That same source
suggests a vague connection with the word muzzle, the projecting part of an
animal’s face. The implication is that the shape of the mouth and lips when
pronouncing the first syllable, mu-, resembles bellowing.
That aside, there was
also the adjective remugient, signifying a very deep and resonating bellow. It
was a booming reverberation, a back and forth exchange between bovines.
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