Detlef Leipe leipe at CROCUS.NLM.NIH.GOV
Tue Apr 7 09:54:01 CDT 1998

I haven't brought my etymological dictionary to the states but
I have looked it up a couple of years ago and if I remember
correctly than this is derived from an old German adjective
'eik' which describes the quickness or suppleness of
movement and a noun 'horni' which has been a collective for
small mammals in old german (mostly carnivors like marder,
iltist and the like, I think).

So, Eichhorn/Eichhoernchen, translates to something like
the 'quick small mammal'. After 'eik' and  'horni' have been
lost from the German language, folk ethymology has shifted
the spelling of the word to make it similar to words that
still exist in German but it is neither named for the
oak tree nor for having a horn.

As I said, this is from memory. I would await corraboration
from somebody who acutally has a dictonary.


On Apr 7, 12:24pm, Paul DESSART wrote:
> Subject: sciurus/Eichhorn
> Dear German-speaking Taxacomers,
>    This may seem to have no relation with my entomological work, but
> it DOES actually have, although accessorily, of course (too long and
> useless to explain here). So I would be extremely grateful to any
> German speaking colleague, in possession of an etymological German
> dictionary, who would send me the explanation of the German name
> Eich-horn (Sciurus; Mammalia, Rodentia). (By the way, the Greek
> skiouros, the Latin sciurus, the French e'cureuil, the Enghish squirrel,
> all derive from skia: shadow, and ouros: tail, i.e. the animal which rests
> in the shadow of its own tail: what anybody may check in nature).
>     For me, Eich is oak (Quercus) and Horn is ... horn (cornu). The
> sense of the combination escapes to my understanding.
>     Many, many thanks to any collaborator.
> Paul.
> Paul Dessart,
> Chef honoraire de la Section Insectes et Arachnomorphes
> a l'Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique,
> 29, rue Vautier,
> B-1000 Bruxelles, Belgique
>-- End of excerpt from Paul DESSART

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