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The monkey house

I should have added in this morning’s post that primate also derives from the Latin primus (first) and primas (of first rank). The term in biology speaks to our species-centric belief (or vanity) that we and the species most closely related to us are of the first rank.

A primate is also, in theological terms, a first among equals, such as bishops. So a reference to an Anglican primate does not necessarily identify a great ape.



Posted by John McIntyre at 1:43 PM | | Comments (4)


Word origins rule. Who would have guessed that trousers and torture are derived from the same word?

Getting my word of the day from is always fun - especially the etymology.

I don't feel that I need to apologize for thinking that *my* species is of the first rank.

I know that my cat holds a similar, contrasting belief, and SHE is certain unapologetic about it.

JMc - have you ever had monkey bread?

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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