This birth, however, does not involve mangers or stars. The birth we speak of is deer.
And when we say deer, we are being literal. Etymology is the study of the origins of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history.
The origin of a word may have danced across your mind on occasion but ,really, who thinks about this stuff? Well, mostly etymologists.
Because we are all inclusive on this blog we are giving a shout out to all those etymologists out there. Honoring the animal that dominates this blog – DEER!
Deer have been traipsing the earth for millions of years. The earliest true deer (Family Cervidae) appeared in Eurasia in the middle of the Miocene.
But they didn’t get their name until millions of years later. It was common by 1500.
The word deer, from German Tier, meaning a wild beast, was at the time a term used to refer to wild animals in general. It gradually became specialized in this country for an animal being the most easily frightened – so the wildest – and running the fastest.
Seems fitting given the species we currently refer to when using that word.
So now you know. Think of it as our gift to you this holiday season.
-Jeannine Fleegle, biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section
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