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Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day
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Thursday word: ossifrage

ossifrage (OS-uh-frij) - n., the lammergeier or bearded vulture; (arch.) the osprey.


The name comes from Latin ossifraga, vulture, feminine of ossifragus, bone-breaker, from os, bone + frangere, to break. The Romans used this for the lammergeier (lit. "lamb-vulture" in German), a large Old World vulture that swallows and digests bones and was believed to break them by dropping them from aloft to get at the marrow. For unknown reasons, in France and England, the word was initially transferred to the osprey, possibly because of the sound, but this is now obsolete usage. So which one does the King James Bible mean in the list of non-kosher birds in Lev 11:13-19 (and the nearly identical passage in Deu 14:12-19):
And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, and the vulture, and the kite after his kind; every raven after his kind; and the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, and the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, and the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
-- the vulture, given osprey is separately listed.

(Note that a contemporary Jewish translation of this passage starts "the eagle, the vulture, and the black vulture; the kite, falcons of every variety ... ")

---L.
Tags: latin, noun, o
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