The generic epithet translates as 'wandering about', the specific indicates it is migratory; the Passenger Pigeon's movements were not only seasonal, as with other birds, but also they would mass in whatever location was most productive and suitable for breeding.
In the 18th century, the Passenger Pigeon in Europe was known to the French as tourtre; but, in New France, the North American bird was called tourte. In modern French, the bird is known as the pigeon migrateur.
In Algonquian languages, it was called amimi by the Lenape and omiimii by the Ojibwe. The term "passenger pigeon" in English derives from the French word passager, meaning "to pass by" in a fleeting manner. Jesuit missionary Jacques Gravier's pioneering Kaskaskia-French dictionary explicitly describes and names the passenger pigeon as mimi8a in the Kaskaskia Illinois language, said to be equivalent to tourtre in French.
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Famous quotes containing the word etymology:
“The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.”
—Giambattista Vico (16881744)
“Semantically, taste is rich and confusing, its etymology as odd and interesting as that of style. But while stylederiving from the stylus or pointed rod which Roman scribes used to make marks on wax tabletssuggests activity, taste is more passive.... Etymologically, the word we use derives from the Old French, meaning touch or feel, a sense that is preserved in the current Italian word for a keyboard, tastiera.”
—Stephen Bayley, British historian, art critic. Taste: The Story of an Idea, Taste: The Secret Meaning of Things, Random House (1991)