Animal Adjectives

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Thanks to Maeve Maddox at DailyWritingTips.com for this idea.

Not long ago, I posted an article and graphic about the creative and varied names for animal groups. Today, I’d like to talk about animal-related adjectives.

If something is like a dog, it’s canine. Cat-like things are feline. If something is related to cows, it’s bovine. Horsey things are equine. Most of us recognize these. What about aquiline? Some noses are described that way. Did you know it means eagle-like? I didn’t until recently. Nor did I know that there were dozens of such adjectives. Below is just a sampling:

  • ant: formicine
  • antelope: alcelaphine
  • ass: asinine
  • bear: ursine
  • bee: apian
  • bird: avian
  • bull: taurine
  • buzzard: buteonine
  • camel: cameline
  • deer/elk/moose: cervine
  • chicken: galline
  • crow: corvine
  • dog: canine
  • dolphin: delphine
  • dove: columbine
  • elephant: elephantine
  • fish: piscine
  • flea: pulicine
  • fox: vulpine
  • frog: ranine
  • giraffe: giraffine
  • hamster/gerbil: cricetine
  • hornet/wasp: vespine
  • horse: equine
  • kangaroo:macropine
  • leopard: pardine
  • lion: leonine
  • monkey: cercopithecine or simian
  • mouse/rat: murine
  • octopus: octopine
  • owl: strigine
  • peacock: pavonine
  • pig: porcine
  • porcupine: hystricine
  • rabbit: lapine
  • rattlesnake: crotaline
  • reptile: reptilian
  • rhinoceros: ceratorhine
  • seal: phocine
  • serpent: serpentine
  • sheep: ovine
  • skunk: mephitine
  • squirrel: sciurine
  • swan: cygnine
  • tiger: tigrine
  • tortoise: testudine
  • turtle: chelonian
  • wolf: lupine
  • viper: viperine
  • zebra: hippotigrine

Here’s a pinnable version:

About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Grammar Nut
    Grammar Nut02-21-2014

    Fascinating. I didn’t know lupine was wolf-related.

    • Will Egan
      Will Egan02-26-2014

      I knew that from Latin.

    • Quentin W. Buetow
      Quentin W. Buetow03-25-2016

      Considering the Latin origins and etymology of “lupus”, I can’t imagine WHY this would be unknown or even the least bit surprising.

      lupus (n.) late 14c., used of several diseases that cause ulcerations of the skin, from Medieval Latin lupus, from Latin lupus “wolf” (see wolf (n.)), apparently because it “devours” the affected part.

  2. CJ
    CJ02-21-2014

    Ohhh, that’s a nice resource to have!

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