Student Dictionary

2 entries found for crocodile.
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Main Entry: croc·o·dile
Pronunciation: primarystresskräk-schwa-secondarystressdimacrl
Function: noun
Etymology: from Middle English cocodrille "crocodile," from early French cocodrille (same meaning), from Latin cocodrillus and earlier crocodilus "crocodile," from Greek krokodilos "crocodile, lizard"
: any of several large thick-skinned long-bodied reptiles of tropical and subtropical waters -- compare ALLIGATOR
Word History The English word crocodile can be traced back to the ancient Greek word krokodilos. But the word went through a curious spelling change along the way. The Greeks first saw this strange animal in Egypt, where it lived along the Nile River. They named it krokodilos, the Greek word for "lizard." Krokodilos literally means "pebble worm." It is made up of the Greek words krokos, meaning "pebble," and drilos, "worm." The first part apparently comes from the habit of lizards of sunning themselves on warm rocks or pebbles. The last part, drilos, is the word the Greeks used for any creature that looked like a snake. The Romans borrowed this Greek word into Latin as crocodilus. However, later speakers moved the r from the first to the third syllable, and it came to be spelled cocodrillus. It is this form that was taken into early French and later into Middle English as cocodrille. Later, English scholars reading the earliest Latin books found that the Latin word had originally been spelled crocodilus instead of cocodrillus. Then they changed the spelling of the English word to match the form it had in Latin and Greek.
[crocodile illustration]

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