from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various stout, flightless aquatic birds of the family Spheniscidae, of the Southern Hemisphere, having flipperlike wings and webbed feet adapted for swimming and diving, short scalelike feathers, and white underparts with a dark back.
  • noun Obsolete The great auk.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The wild pineapple, Bromelia Pinguin.
  • noun The great auk, Alca impennis; the original sense.
  • noun Any species of the family Spheniscidæ or Aptenodytidæ. (See Spheniscidæ for technical characters.)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) Any bird of the order Impennes, or Ptilopteri. They are covered with short, thick feathers, almost scalelike on the wings, which are without true quills. They are unable to fly, but use their wings to aid in diving, in which they are very expert. See King penguin, under jackass.
  • noun (Bot.) The egg-shaped fleshy fruit of a West Indian plant (Bromelia Pinguin) of the Pineapple family; also, the plant itself, which has rigid, pointed, and spiny-toothed leaves, and is used for hedges.
  • noun (Zoöl.) the great auk. See Auk.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun slang A nun (because of the black and white habit).
  • noun juggling A type of catch where the palm of the hand is facing towards the leg with the arm stretched downward, resembling the flipper of a penguin.
  • noun botany A spiny bromeliad with egg-shaped fleshy fruit.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun short-legged flightless birds of cold southern especially Antarctic regions having webbed feet and wings modified as flippers


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Possibly from Welsh pen gwyn, White Head (name of an island in Newfoundland), great auk : pen, chief, head + gwynn, white; see weid- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Unknown origin. Possibly from Welsh pen ("head") and gwyn ("white"), or from Latin pinguis ("fat"). See citations and the Wikipedia page.



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  • All hail the emperor

    November 23, 2007

  • The great auk, now extinct.

    Also, says the O.E.D., a rare verb meaning 'to publish as a Penguin book'.

    February 1, 2009

  • The Penguins are a hockey team from Pittsburgh.

    Go Steelers.

    February 1, 2009

  • "What outlandish beings are these? Erect as men, but hardly as symmetrical, they stand all round the rock like sculptured caryatides, supporting the next range of eaves above. Their bodies are grotesquely misshapen; their bills short; their feet seemingly legless; while the members at their sides are neither fin, wing, nor arm. And truly neither fish, flesh, nor fowl is the penguin; as an edible, pertaining neither to Carnival nor Lent; without exception the most ambiguous and least lovely creature yet discovered by man. Though dabbling in all three elements, and indeed possessing some rudimental claims to all, the penguin is at home in none. On land it stumps; afloat it sculls; in the air it flops. As if ashamed of her failure, Nature keeps this ungainly child hidden away at the ends of the earth, in the Straits of Magellan, and on the abased sea-story of Rodondo."

    - Melville, The Encantadas, Sketch Third

    September 20, 2011

  • Hardly as symmetrical?

    September 21, 2011

  • Haven't you noticed how awfully asymmetric penguins are?

    September 21, 2011

  • Sometimes I think of Melville as the evil twin of Charles Sanders Peirce.

    September 21, 2011

  • All the penguins in my neighbourhood are very symmetrical.

    September 21, 2011

  • .+.

    /( )\

    -- --

    September 21, 2011

  • A bit lopsided, perhaps due to the way Bugnik displays photrealistic ASCII Sphenisciformes, but very symmetrical.

    September 21, 2011