Some etymology

While the meanings of most generic and specific names can be readily- ascertained from a Latin dictionary or Greek lexicon, or are based on geographical or personal names, the derivations of some are less obvious. This article is concerned with some of the names of British Recent non-marine Mollusca, native or introduced. Names originating with Leach (or Prideaux MSS.) and some of Gray's are particularly puzzling; several of them seem to be make-up words of no significance. Arianta recalls Ariantus, King of Scythia, and Abida (or Abidah) was a son of Midian (genesis 2^:k, 1 Chronicles 1:33); Abydos is a less likely suggestion, and Winckworth ventured nab Ida," from Ida. It has been conjectured that Azeca is from Azekah, a city of Judah, and Iaminia (Jaminia) might be from Hebrew jamin, right hand. Theba, originally spelt Teba by Leach, seems hardly likely to be from Thebai or Thebes, nor Balaea (Balea) from Hebrew baali, my lord, or Gk. balios, spotted or dappled. Ena has defied all speculation, unless it is the name of a girl friend. Phytia Gray might be from Gk. phytios, productive, or perhaps an anagram or lapsus cslami (not unknown for Gray) of Pythia, the Delphic priestess (cf. Helix pythia MUller); that Gray was partial to anagrams is shown by Milax and Malino (probably a misprint for Malix), anagrams of Lirnax. The suggestion that Assiminea Fleming commemorates the oriental scholar J. S. Assemani is scarcely convincing. Cernuella Schluter is more likely a misprint for Cornuella, diminutive of cornu (cf. Cornu copiae Born), than a derivative of cernuus, nodding or bowing. Carychium MUller may be a diminutive of Doric caryx, whelk or herald, or a combination of Gk. caryon, nut, and chion, snow, i.e. white. The derivation of Galba from Lat. galbus, yellow, is more likely than from galba, which meant either a kind of grub or larva, or a fat belly.

In some cases the derivation seems clear, but the reason for the choice less so. Bithynia was a province of Asia Minor, but why Leach gave the name to Helix truncatula L., in a book about China, remains a mystery. The introduced Lymnaea catascopium Say derives its specific name from a Greek word meaning "look-out ship," from catascopos, spying or exploring. Menetus means steadfast or patient, and Hippeutis is a horseman or rider. Vallonia, according to Risso, is goddess of the valleys, Zenobia (Zenobiella) was Queen of Palmyra, and Marpessa was daughter of Evenus and wife of Idas. Why a genus of slugs, Arion, should be named after the bard of Lesbos is not apparent. Liberta means a freed woman or manumitted female slave, but why did Westerlund bestow the name on a little hairy snail?

The derivation of most other names is less speculative and usually unequivocal, though some call for a little explanation. Peringia Paladilhe was "dediee a la famille Pering de Londres." The specific name lagotis seems to be compounded of Gk. lagos, hare, and otis, genitive of ous, ear, on the analogy of myosotis, mouse-ear. Planorbis acronicus derives its specific name from Acronius lacus, Bodensee or Lake Constance. Lauria was a compliment to the author's niece, Laura Gray. Cecilioides looks like a hybrid word from Lat. caecilia, blindworm, and Gk. eidos, form, appropriate to a sightless, subterranean snail. Vertigo genesii Gredler was originally collected above St. Genesie or Jenesien, near Bozen, South Tyrol. Canon J. Goodall (1760¬1840), Headmaster, then Provost, of Eton, is commemorated by two specific names. Laciniaria comes from a Low Latin word meaning plaited, from lacinia, a fragment of cloth or lappet, and Retinella is from Gk. retine, gum or resin. Cepaea is from Gk. cepos, garden, so that C. hortensis is a garden snail twice over. Both Pomatias and pomatia stem from Gk. poma, lid, in reference to the operculum of the former and to the winter epiphragm of the "Roman Snail." Hygromia is doubtless a variant of Hygromanes Ferussac, from Gk. hygros, moist, and maiomai, seek, or possibly mainomai, be mad. Ponentina is from Portuguese ponente (poente), west, and Monacha, from Gk. monachos, solitary, hence a monk, is an allusion to the Carthusian monastery of La Chartreuse (Helix cartusiana MUller is the type species). The slug Agriolimax caruanae is dedicated to Dr. A. A. Caruana Gatto, secretary to the University of Malta. Pisidium conventus was so named because Clessin described it at a meeting or congress (at Mtinich); conventus is the genitive of a fourth declension Latin noun, so does not "agree" with the second declension neuter noun Pisidium. Dreissena honours Jean Henri Dreissens (also spelt Driessens and Dreissen) of Maaseik, Limburg (see Internat. Comm. Zool. Nomencl., Opinion 351).

Among introduced aliens, Eobania has been derived from Gk. eos, dawn, and Hungarian banat, a district governed by a viceroy (ban), signifying eastern Rumelia (now S. Bulgaria). Ancomena is from Gk. ancos, bend, and mene, moon, i.e. crescent moon, no doubt suggested by Selenites Fischer. Finally, Seminolina, though distastefully reminiscent of a milk pudding, is actually derived from the Seminole, a tribe of Indians settled in Florida.

A. E. Ellis