Antedating of "Amphibian" (n.)

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 6 07:36:49 UTC 2014

I don't think it's quite an antedating so much as an alternative
meaning. The standard definition (B.1.) identifies the members of the
phylum Amphibia or, perhaps, those animals that have previously
classified as related (particularly water-dwelling reptiles, such as
tortoises). This corresponds to A.2. adjective definitions, with
A.3./B.3. clearly derived from that. But A.1. contains a more general
definition (two modes of existence), with the sole example representing
only the figurative meaning (apparently also corresponding to B.2.).
This would also explain the alternative spelling--amphibian for
adjective/amphibion for noun.


PS: This is also a nice example of barbecue v. and buttarga (an example
of which I have in my fridge right now, but spelled "bottarga", contrary
to the OED etymological note claim).

On 1/5/2014 10:29 AM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> amphibian, n. (OED 1835)
> 1749 _Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure_ IV. 212 (Eighteenth Cen=
> tury Collections Online)  This rarity of a creature has three large hearts =
> that hang together in one string; and as the _Manatee_ is, so is she, an am=
> phibion [sic] that lives in the water, and without it; that swims like a fi=
> sh, yet in the sand lays eggs like a fowl; whose fish is flesh, and admits =
> of various tastes; as of veal, of beef, but the fat is green, and eats like=
>   marrow; and their eggs undistinguishable from those of a hen; which, if pi=
> ckled, strung up, and barbacued in the sun, are little or nothing inferior =
> to buttargo.
> Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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