How Did the Penguin Get Its Name, What Does It Mean, and Where Do Penguins Live?

Penguins are aquatic, flightless birds that live only in Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere.

How Did the Penguin Get its Name

The word “penguin” is neither French, Breton nor Spanish in origin.

Many etymologists believe that the name is from the Welsh word “pen”, meaning “head”, and “gwyn”, which means “white”.

An alternative etymology suggests the name originates from the Latin word “pinguis”, meaning “fat”, from the penguin’s appearance.

A third theory is so stupid we won’t even mention it.

Actually, the first “penguins” were not what we call penguins.

The name was first given to the great auk, a black-and-white bird that lived near the North Pole.

Later, when explorers got to Antarctica, they saw black-and-white birds that reminded them vaguely of the “penguins” of the north, so the explorers called them penguins, too.

The southern fowl inherited sole ownership of the name when the last great auk was hunted to extinction in 1944.

Well, almost sole ownership, there is also a West Indies pineapple, sometimes used for making a type of wine, that is also known by the name penguin.

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