Thursday, February 23, 2012

Herring-hog and helegug

Regular readers might remember previous posts about snouts, esp. this one. (Quick summary is that a porpoise is a pork-fish.) Today, while trying to establish the age of the term "puffer fish" on OED, I learned some more hoggish synonyms for "the common porpoise":
1. Puffer (3c.) Quot. from 1911: Porpoise (Phocæna communis).—A cetacean found on the north Atlantic and north Pacific coasts, ascending rivers. It is known as ‘harbor porpoise’, ‘herring-hog’, ‘puffer’, [etc.].

2. Puffing pig. chiefly US. Quot. from 2004: Harbour porpoises are sometimes called the puffing pig as the creatures can be heard making puffing noises from the shoreline as they take a breath on the surface.

3. Puff-pig. Newfoundland, obs. the common porpoise. Quot. from 1861: At the mention of the puff-pig, the local name for the common porpoise, we indulged ourselves in a childish laugh.

There is also a puff-shark:
puff-shark. now rare, the swell shark, Cephaloscyllium ventriosum. Quot. from SciAm, 1902: The curious puff shark uttered a deep grunt when it was taken from the water.

Also discovered, as part of this excursion, some obsolete synonyms for puffin:
(1678) The Bird called Coulterneb at the Farn Islands, Puffin in North-Wales, in South-Wales Gulden-head, Bottle-nose, and Helegug, at Scarburgh Mullet, in Cornwal Pope.

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