NANFA-- Words based on fish names
Fri, 21 Jun 2002 20:15:21 -0500 (CDT)

Dear NANFA-members,

This message is somewhat off-topic. Please delete if not interested in
strange words and their meanings.

I am on the a-word-a-day mailing list. This past week's theme was words
based on fish names. These words have alternative meanings as well. I
thought that you folks may find these words interesting.

minnow (MIN-o) noun

1. Any of the small freshwater fish of the Cyprinidae family.

2. Someone or something considered insignificant.

[Ultimately from Old High German munewa, a kind of fish, via Old English
and Middle English.]
gudgeon (GUJ-uhn) noun

1. A small European fresh-water fish (Gobio gobio) or any of the
related fishes, often used as bait.

2. A gullible person.

3. A bait.

[From Latin gobion, variant of gobius, via Old French and Middle English.]
gudgeon (GUJ-uhn) noun

A pivot, usually made of metal, at the end of a beam, axle, etc., on
which a wheel or a similar device turns.

[From Middle English gudyon, from Old French goujon.]
remora (REM-uhr-ah) noun

1. Any of several fishes of the family Echeneididae that have a dorsal
fin modified in the shape of a suction disk that they use to attach
to a larger fish, sea-turtles, or ships.
Also called sharksucker or suckerfish.

2. Hindrance, drag.

[From Latin, literally delay, from remorari (to linger, delay), from re-
+ morari (to delay), from mora (delay).]

"Demur" and "moratorium" are other words that share the same root as
remora. They all involve the idea of delay. Remora got their name from the
belief that they slowed ships down by attaching themselves to the hull.
Remora's suction power is so strong that, in some parts of the world,
lines are attached to their tails and lowered into the water to fish for
sea turtles. Remora eat scraps from the fish they attach to. But they
don't just get a free ride and free food in this way. It's a truly
symbiotic relationship as they, in turn, remove parasites from their
bigger buddies.

Here are a few pictures:
inconnu (in-kuh-NOO) noun

1. A whitefish (Stenodus leucichthys) found in arctic and subarctic.
Also known as sheefish.

2. A stranger.

[From French, literally unknown. In 1789, explorer Alexander Mackenzie and
his crew traveled the waterways of Northwest territories in search of a
Northwest passage. They came across an unknown fish and the
French-Canadian voyageurs who were part of his crew called it inconnu.]
tope (tope) verb tr., intr.

To drink (liquor) habitually and copiously.

[Of uncertain origin, perhaps from obsolete top (to drink) as in "top

tope (tope) noun

A small shark with a long snout (Galeorhinus galeus).

[Of unknown origin.]

tope (tope) noun

A usually dome-shaped monument built by Buddhists. Also known as a

[From Hindi top, from Prakrit or Pali thupo, from Sanskrit stupa (head).

Some pictures of, tope, the fish:
tope, the building:

Sajjad Lateef   email: sajjad <at> 
Chicago, IL     web:
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