Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Coccyx - A Cuckoo Etymology

A black and white illustration of a coccyx
A human coccyx is, as one can clearly see, just like a cuckoo's beak
(illustration from Sobotta's Human Anatomy 1909)


Noun. Plural coccyxes, coccyges. Late 16th century.
[Latin from Greek kokkux, -ug- (originally) cuckoo: from its resemblance (in humans) to a cuckoo's beak.]

ANATOMY. The small triangular bone forming the lower end of the spinal column in humans and some apes;
the analogous part in birds or other vertebrates.

If you ever want sympathy after an injury, don't let that injury be to your coccyx, because all you'll get are childish sniggers and immature bum puns. And far worse, you'll have to endure nincompoops struggling over the pronunciation of coccyx which, like your friends, is really quite simple - it's cock-six (not cock-ix, cock-chicks or, as I once heard, co-chikes)

There. Nothing remotely funny or difficult about that. And if your smirking backfriends need a little further education, you can tell them that the coccyx is so named because it resembles a cuckoo's beak, and pain in the coccyx is called coccydynia and it's no laughing matter.

A yellow-billed Eurasian cuckoo in profile on a branch
A Eurasian cuckoo
(photo by Isidro Villa Verde)
Have you ever injured your coccyx?

Were you appalled by the subsequent crude jokes and lack of sympathy?

Do please tell us your tails by leaving a comment in the box below.

1 comment:

  1. Shawn: I think I broke my back, and my neck, and my arm.
    Gus: That's nothing, I just bruised my coccyx.
    Shawn: Say what?
    Gus: You know what I mean.
    Shawn: I certainly do not.
    Gus: When I get home I'm definitely going to have to rub oil on my coccyx.
    Shawn: Gus, please, that is disgusting.
    Gus: What? A deep tissue massage is definitely what my coccyx needs.
    Shawn: Would you stop saying that word?!
    Gus: Coccyx? That's what it's called Shawn!