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a penguin


Unknown origin[1]. Possibly from Welsh pen (head) and gwyn (white), or from Latin pinguis (fat). See citations and the Wikipedia page.



penguin (plural penguins)

  1. Any of several flightless sea birds, of order Sphenisciformes, found in the Southern Hemisphere; marked by their usual upright stance, walking on short legs, and (generally) their stark black and white plumage. [from 16th c.]
    • 1638, Thomas Herbert, Some Yeares Travels, I:
      Here are also birds cal'd Pen-gwins (white-head in Welch) like Pigmies walking upright, their finns or wings hanging very orderly downe like sleeves [...].
  2. (slang) A nun (because of the black and white habit).
  3. (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.
  4. A spiny bromeliad with egg-shaped fleshy fruit, Bromelia pinguin.

Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ T.F. Hoad, Concise Dictionary of English Etymology, ISBN 978-0-19-283098-2; headword penguin

Further readingEdit