echidna

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See also: Echidna and echidnă

English[edit]

An echidna

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Debated, but probably from Ancient Greek ἔχιδνα (ékhidna, snake, viper) via Latin. Compare ἐχῖνος (ekhînos, hedgehog, etc.). However, this sense is problematic (unless it is a reference to the ant-eating tongue). The name perhaps belongs to Latin echinus from the aforementioned Ancient Greek term's alternate sense of "sea-urchin" (also "sharp points"), which Watkins explains as "snake-eater," from ekhis "snake." The 1810 Encyclopaedia Britannica deduces thus the animal's alternative name as "porcupine ant-eater."

Alternatively and perhaps more likely, the name refers to Echidna as the name of a serpent-nymph in Greek mythology, "a beautiful woman in the upper part of her body; but instead of legs and feet, she had from the waist downward, the form of a serpent," in which case the animal was named for its mixed features (early naturalists doubted whether it was a mammal or amphibian). Ultimately, the etymology may be from a synthesis of all the roots above.

Noun[edit]

echidna (plural echidnas or echidnae)

  1. Any of the species of small spined monotremes in family Tachyglossidae, the four extant species of which are found in Australia and southern New Guinea.

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Italian[edit]

Noun[edit]

echidna f (plural echidne)

  1. echidna