Etymology refers to the linguistic history of words, their origin and how they have changed over the course of the years. It is important to examine this as it is more than a linguistic exercise – it also has much to do with the physical characteristics of the object (an animal, in this case) that it describes.
In the cases in which the word for an animal is used (whether by itself or in combination with another word) to describe a completely unrelated object or concept, it has likely been used to infer something about the subject, related to the characteristic of the animal that it describes.
The original source of the word “tiger” is believed to be within the Iranian or Persian language. In this tongue, it refers to an arrow, which speeds with unwavering focus towards its target. This was then adapted to the Greek word “tigris”, which is recognised as the official origin of the modern English term for these speeding, accurate hunters.
The plural of tiger is tigers and there is no variation for the female of the species. Babies are called tiger cubs, irrespective of their gender. The name “tiger” is pronounced “tai-guh” with the emphasis on the first part of the word.
The scientific name, Panthera tigris, is thought to have various origins, but is most likely from the Indian language, in which “panther” refers to the yellow and white colouring of the animal.
The name “tiger” is also applied, in slang, to a person that is considered to be athletic and adventurous during sex.
When referring to a person or animal and comparing them to one of these magnificent wild cats, the terms “tigerish” and “tigerlike” are most appropriate.
Various animals and plants have “tiger” in their name for different reasons. Some of these include:
•The Tiger Lily – a gorgeous orange lily, sometimes with black or dark brown markings.
•The Tiger Moth – a stunning moth with predominantly black wings and orange or golden markings. The aeroplane of the same name boasts similar colouring for this reason.
•The Tiger Beetle – although this beetle does not have the colouring of a tiger, it is so named for its superior hunting abilities, vicious attack and impressive speeds.
•The Tiger Cat – a domestic cat with gorgeous striped markings. The base colour varies from ginger to tabby or even grey.
•The Tiger Shark – this striped shark is a well-accomplished predator.
•The Tiger Snake - a venomous hunter with a distinctly striped body.
•Tiger’s Eye gem stones – these gorgeous stones are a deep golden hue with bold black bands running through them. They are believed to relieve high blood pressure.
Here are some other uses of the word “tiger”:
•Blind Tiger – this was originally used in reference to an illegal saloon, or a similar place that acted as a front for more dubious activities behind the scenes.
•Paper Tiger – this refers to something that seems threatening (like a tiger) but is, in reality harmless (like paper).