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  • "feliculacide"
    • "feliculacide"
      That's what I suggested on the evening, but I've just come home and checked my Cassell's, and it suggests "catulus" for kitten; that would render 'catulucide', which I think has better prosody. I'm going to check the huge reference tomes in the Bodleian tomorrow, though, because it surprises me that "catulus" would be real.
      • by Damian (784) on 2008.04.22 18:16 (#62349)
        My understanding is that catulus was quite generic, meaning "any cute baby animal" and was, in fact, predominantly used in referring to puppies. There are several instances where ancient writers, specifically referring to a kitten, feel it necessary to clarify that point by writing catulus felis. Whereas only rarely do they seem to bother with catulus canis, as far as I can discover (and even then, it seems, mainly for poetic reasons).

        Indeed, Isidorus Hispalensis in his medieval encyclopaedia, "Etymologiae", states that:

        The offspring of any animal whatsoever are wrongly called catuli. Strictly speaking, catuli are the offspring only of dogs.
        (Of course, you have to take Saint Isidore with a grain of salt. In the very next paragraph, for example, he goes on to explain that in India they breed dogs and wild tigers together to produce canines so strong and violent that "they overcome even lions in close combat". Still, it seems likely that a 6th century Roman Catholic archbishop knows more about Latin than he does about zoology, genetics, or Vedic animal husbandry.)

        So while I agree with you that, on prosody alone, "catulicide" is clearly better than "feliculacide", I feel that in terms of semantic precision, the latter is still clearly superior. To get the equivalent species specificity out of catulus, you'd need something like "catulofelicide". Which, come to think of it, might actually be easier on the tongue than either of the other two.

        Of course, this does illustrate that real problem here isn't etymological; it's theological. Namely: every time The Lord God Almighty punishes Nick's depraved thoughts and deeds, does it have to be a kitten (felicula) that He, in His Just and Terrible Wrath, strikes dead? Or would any other baby animal (catulus) do as well?

        If He, in His Infinite Mercy, is just as happy to slaughter puppies and ducklings and baby hamsters in expiation of Nick's many iniquities, then "catulicide" is the right word. But if it's only kittens whose innocent blood redeems Nick's endless depravities, then I think we have to go with "feliculacide" or "catulofelicide".

        • Interesting about the Etymologiae. I actually discussed the puppy/generic animal issue to some extent in my one and only journal post [] to date. The Etymologiae may have been referenced in the Thesaurus, but (O irony) my Latin is sufficiently rusty that I was having trouble reading the full entry.

          It is certainly true that "catulus" especially referred to puppies in the classical period (c.f. Lewis & Short), but I would argue that Isidore's pedantry shows us that the meaning of the word *was* shiftin