January 27, 2013
unicorn (noun)
\YOO-nuh-korn\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: an imaginary animal generally represented with the body and head of a horse and a single horn in the middle of the forehead
How do you use it?
On her visit to the Cloisters Museum in New York, Veronica saw a series of medieval tapestries showing the capture of a unicorn.
Are you a word wiz?

Although we usually think of a unicorn as a horned horse, the word "unicorn" comes from a Greek word associated with another animal. What animal do you think that is?

Believe it or not, the right answer is C, rhinoceros. The two-horned African rhinoceros was familiar to people living in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The single-horned Indian rhinoceros, though, was never observed firsthand by ancient authors and was turned into a mythical animal the Greeks called "monokeros," which means "single-horned one." The unicorn as we think of it today was described in the _Physiologus_, a 4th-century Greek book on real and imaginary animals. Later authors writing in Latin translated "monokeros" as "unicornis" or "unicornuus," the source of the English word "unicorn."
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