[Ads-l] ridley (sea turtle) antedated to 1885

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Tue Aug 18 15:46:42 UTC 2015

OED has it from 1897 "Etymology:  Origin unknown.

Various suggestions have been made about the etymology of the name, but none seems convincing. For a full discussion see H. A. Dundee in Marine Turtle Newsletter 58 (1992) 10-2."

The text below fits with the so-far know local use in South Florida (and the Bahamas). It may be early enough to further discount the proposal that it was named after H. N. Ridley, who has no clear connection to this turtle or its area. It does not prove another proposal, but does not contradict the proposal that this turtle, sometimes locally called the "bastard turtle" might be a local development from riddle (to riddler?) to ridley, supposedly from it's uncertain parentage, locally supposed crossbreed between loggerhead and green turtles (as reported in the article cited by Dundee, "The Etymological Riddle of the Ridley Sea Turtle" [1]). The name here is not capitalized.

Since the article, Pegging Turtles," is freely available online, I won't quote extensively.  Thursday, May 7, 1885 p. 9 col. 1-2, here col. 2, The Yazoo Sentinel (Yazoo City, Miss.).
"....We pegged a ridley, or yellow turtle ten minutes later. This was estimated to weigh 350 pounds....We let the ridley go after extracting the 'peg'...."


Stephen Goranson


[1] http://www.seaturtle.org/mtn/archives/mtn58/mtn58p10b.shtml

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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