Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Meatbull!

Posted by Neal on January 22, 2004

When my son got interested in dinosaurs, I began to learn about all the dinosaurs that had been discovered since I read about them as a kid. One of them is a meat-eater from South America, with a snub-nosed face and two short horns above its eyes. These features reminded the dinosaur’s discoverer of a bull, so he named it Carnotaurus (yes, that’s –taurus, not –saurus), which most of the dinosaur books I’ve seen translate as “meat-eating bull.” Now that’s just not right. The Carno– part means “meat,” and the taurus part means “bull,” but where’s the “eat” part? Carnotaurus doesn’t mean “meat-eating bull”; it means “meatbull”! more

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