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TROGLODYTE

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TROGLODYTE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Feb 28, 2005 11:13 pm

• troglodyte •

Pronunciation: trahg-lê-dayt

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A person who lives in a cave or building carved into a hillside. 2. A pongid (gorilla, orangutan, or chimpanzee). 3. A reclusive, anachronistic person who resists change.

Notes: This curious word has a limited immediate family, only the adjective troglodytic [trahg-lê-di-tik]. However, the first constituent, troglo-, may be combined with other Greek constituents to create new words like troglophile "an animal that enjoys dark caves"—but why not "cave-lover"? Hadn't you rather be a troglophile than a spelunker? And, if troglophile, why not troglophobe "someone who fears spelunking."

In Play: First, people do dig out cozy homes in hillsides and live in them (see the illustration from France). However, you probably never thought of chimpanzees as troglodytes; yet, their scientific name is pan troglodytes—perhaps from the days when we thought they lived in caves. But today the word is used most widely in the third sense: "Nothing brings the troglodytes out of the woodwork like the smell of change." I suppose your attitude toward change will determine whether you identify with the troglodytes or the change-makers.

Word History: Let us see if we can root out the origin of today's Good Word. It was kidnapped pretty much as is from Greek troglodytes "an animal that crawls into holes" (mice, foxes, snakes) then, later "caveman". In Greek the word was a compound from trogle "gnawed hole" (from trogein "to gnaw") + dytes "one who enters." ("Cave" in Greek was spelunx, from which we derive spelunker.) But troglodytes to the Greeks were Caucasian or Middle Eastern peoples who carved their homes in rocks or lived in decorated caves. Aristotle, however, referred to these peoples as midgets who fought wars with cranes and Aristotle's opinion has always carried a lot of weight.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue Mar 01, 2005 12:16 pm

The illustration from France? :?

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Troglodytes in France

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:15 pm

In fact, I was expecting to find numerous sites on the Web about cave-dwellers in the Middle East, where many still remain. I was surprised to find one French page after another referring to people who live in houses carved into the sides of hills (hardly caves, most of them), as troglodytes.

So the word, apparently, is healthier in French than in English.
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Postby Stargzer » Wed Mar 02, 2005 12:37 am

Troglodyte reminds me of a particular Wild Thing from my youth of long ago! :D
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Postby anders » Wed Mar 02, 2005 4:25 am

The cave meaning is new to me. I have always and only taken the word to mean chimp-like, and have probably just been puzzled by its use lots of times.
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Postby Stargzer » Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:38 pm

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

troglodyte
"cave-dweller," 1555, from L. troglodytae (plural), from Gk. troglodytes "cave-dweller," lit. "one who creeps into holes," from trogle "hole" (from trogein "to gnaw;" see trout) + dyein "go in, dive in." Slang shortening trog "obnoxious person, boor" is recorded from 1956.
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Postby KatyBr » Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:45 pm

I see a vast difference in spelunkers and trogs. A spelunker, ecept for liking to explore caves is essentially 'normal' a trog is well a trog. I've known some of each....

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Postby Stargzer » Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:55 pm

While surfing I found Yet Another Troglodyte at Wikipedia. Actually, there's an entire Family of them! :D
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Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Mar 03, 2005 10:49 am

Thansk for the link to winged troglodytes, Larry ! Of the various human types, the peasants living in the loess plains and hills of China's Shaanxi (陝西) Province probably constitute one of the more fascinating, although it is hardly the case that their type of dwelling «exist[s] only in China» - witness e g, those of the Pueblo and HopiI ndians in the southwestern US. But take a look at this article and judge for yourselves....

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Postby KatyBr » Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:30 am

While I haven't visited any Hopi's or Pueblos lately, I'm fairly sure they no longer qualify as Trogs, in essence they reside in government built houses, or have moved Away from the rez and reside in apartments, condos, or single family dwellings of rather common and usual variety, nary an earthen wall in sight.

I'm ut in mind of Petra and I'm thinking that people must have lived in the caves there.

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Postby Verbum » Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:34 pm

Interestingly, the wren, which builds covered nests, is called a troglodyte in French, from its Latin name : troglodytes.

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Postby KatyBr » Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:40 pm

Nice to see you here, Verbum

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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:55 pm

although it is hardly the case that their type of dwelling «exist[s] only in China»

Why's the s encircled by brackets there? Any subliminal message I didn't catch?

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Postby M. Henri Day » Fri Mar 04, 2005 8:32 am

Nothing at all «subliminal» there, BD ! The square brackets merely serve to inform the reader that I have made a slight emendation in the cited text, which begins as follows : «As a type of dwelling existing only in China ...». Check the original by means of the link provided in my previous message....

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