Tuesday, April 24, 2012


TileHead’s Word of the Day for 24 April 2012

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RHESUS  (n. pl. -ES)

  1. (n.) a pale brown Asian monkey

Useful info for word game players:
  • Front hooks: (none)
  • Back hooks: (none)
  • Longer extensions: rhesusES
  • Wraparounds: (none)
  • Other Spellings: (none)
  • Related Forms: (none)

Current theme:
Monkeying around with unusual primate names

Truth be told, it is not known why the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Audebert gave this monkey the name RHESUS.  Rhesos was the name of a prince of Thrace in ancient Greece, and apparently Audebert liked the sound of it — no better explanation has been offered.  The RHESUS monkey has frequently been the source of biological experimentation, and the “Rhesus factor” or “RH factor” (a type of protein found on red blood cells) is named after it.

The RHESUS is also a type of MACAQUE, a genus of sturdy and mostly short-tailed or tailless Asian monkeys.  The word MACAQUE was borrowed from Portuguese, but it comes from a Bantu language of central Africa where it meant roughly “monkeys.”  The same Bantu word gave English the word MACACO, but this word now usually refers to a type of LEMUR.  A lemur is not a monkey, but rather a small, arboreal, and chiefly nocturnal primate of Madagascar.

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