Monday, April 05, 2004

Etymology Today from M-W: vulpine \VUL-pyne\

1 : of, relating to, or resembling a fox
2 : foxy, crafty

In Walden (1854), Henry David Thoreau described foxes crying out "raggedly and demoniacally" as they hunted through the winter forest, and he wrote, "Sometimes one came near to my window, attracted by my light, barked a vulpine curse at me, and then retreated." Thoreau's was far from the first use of "vulpine"; English writers have been applying that adjective to the foxlike or crafty since the 15th century. Its Latin parent is the adjective "vulpinus," which itself comes from the noun "vulpes," meaning "fox."

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