Tuesday, March 21, 2006

In Search of A Word

I've been thinking about all the black-and-white things I've been posting here -- this anserine bird, these scacchic pieces below, and of course, the impossibly cute Butterstick the panda. I'm musing about a good word for anything that's similarly black-and-white. That's why I was reminded of piebald.

I'd like to propose the word melanoleucine. The panda's scientific name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca (literally, "cat-foot black-white"). And I like the sound of melanoleucine. As in, "Hey, want to stop by the deli and pick up some of those melanoleucine cookies?"

Plus, pandas are pretty darn cute. (Haven't had enough of a panda fix yet? Try Pandafix.)


Anonymous daz said...

From its roots, "melanoleucine" is clearly a black-white word. But sorry to say, imo that's all it has going for it.

The downsides are that it has five syllables, 13 letters, and a root that is reminiscent of a serious blood disease (not to mention a less serious female disorder).

My vote: Let's keep looking for the ideal word or coinage meaning "having a black and white (but not gray) color scheme".

9:37 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Hmmmmm, well, how about "oreoid"?

7:01 AM  
Blogger Language Lover said...

That would restrict the description to black-white-black color schemes, wouldn't it? Fine for pandas, but not chess sets.

I was thinking "zebric" myself, but it's similarly restricted to stripes.

Will need to ruminate on this a bit more...

10:49 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Ooo, I do like "zebric," LL! I think it has the advantage of being instantly understood.

(Reminds me of a story I once read about how KoKo, the gorilla who was taught sign language, apparently was trying to sign "zebra" and did so by using the signs for "white tiger." Dunno if it's true, but I love the image, don't you?)

1:39 PM  
Anonymous daz said...

Ever since this post appeared, the quest for a good word for patchily black and white has been on my mind.

OREOID is inspired! Yet the cookie is really *dark brown* and white. And, the coinage suggests mountain nymphs.

Some dictionaries mention the meaning we seek for "pied", but it also means patchily other colors as well. But pied comes from "magpie" -- and magpies *are* black & white -- so one candidate solution is MAGPIED.

I viscerally like ZEBRIC -- a great coinage. But (the stripes issue aside) some people might think it refers to a very large cup size.

Today the name of a venerated cartoon voiceover man popped into my head, which led to another candidate: MELBLANIC. Comments?

P.S. I also kinda like CHESS as an adjective meaning what we mean to mean.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Daz, I had the same hesitation about OREOID. I do like CHESS, too, although I worry that the black-and-white idea isn't inherent enough.

And of course! PIED! I hadn't thought about that -- as in the Pied Piper and his patchwork costume.

Although perhaps best of all, when doublechecking Pied Piper, I came across a new-to-me expression that I'll blog about soon. So thanks for setting me off on that etymological romp!

3:51 PM  

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