Saturday, May 12, 2007

Does a Bear Leave Lesses in the Woods?

In a previous posting I have mentioned various words that are applied to groups of animals, from a pride of lions to a mob of kangaroos, to a swarm of bees or locusts.

I even suggested a new word (and a good one I think) for the massive flocks of starlings we see assembled in the Fall (a vulgarity of starlings).

Listening to a comedian on television tonight, I began to wonder if there might be a secret raft of words used to describe specific animal excrement. "Shit" after all has grown just a little too tired from over-use.

I remembered that T.H. White had used the word "Fewmet" as the correct word for the scat of a dragon the Questing Beast. Were there others?

There are!

Below is a small sampling of words I have gleaned without trying too hard.

Apparently there is a book out there by Cyril E. Hare that I really must get -- Language of Field Sports - which is full of such stuff.

Can I really resist knowing a dozen animal-specific words for coppulating? I think not!

In any case, until such a book is ordered and arrived, I offer for your edification a few new words to toss out in casual conversation (note, some of these are Medieval and no longer much in use).

  • Billitting: Fox scat

  • Bodewash: Dried cow or buffalo dung

  • Buttons: Sheep dung

  • Coprolite: Fossilized excrement from a dinosaur

  • Crotiles or Crotisings: Hare poop

  • Fewmets: Deer pellets

  • Fuants: The squat of various vermin

  • Lesses: Boar, Bear or Wolf turds

  • Guano: Seafowl offerings used as fertilizer

  • Mutes: Hawk chalk

  • Scumber: Dog crap

  • Spraints: Otter calling cards

  • Tath: Cattle patties

  • Wormcast: Earthworm vermidung

Does anyone have any more? I know they're out there!


Anonymous said...

Not to be too pedantic, but TH White's word was "fewmets" (not *fewments). It's a real word, referring to the poop of a hunted beast. And White used it to refer to the poop of the Questing Beast (Beast Glatisant), not a dragon.

PBurns said...

You are correct on both counts! I will correct the mis-spelling.

Whether the Questing Beast is actually a dragon or not is a matter of mythology-taxonomy. Though technically it is a type of chimera (an imaginary monster made up of grotesquely disparate parts), it is described by Mallory and others as having a snakes head, the body of a leopard or lizard, the back legs of a lion, and the hooves of a deer, and sounding like 30 hounds baying, and it is typically drawn as looking like a dragon (perhaps because that's what artists know how to draw). I would provide a decription from T.H. White but I cannot find my volume. Someone please come and sort out my library!
See pictures at:

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Anonymous said...

Hee hee .... i am really showing my super nerd colors here.

You make a good point about the Questing Beast / dragon terminology question.

Anyway. I forgot to say in my first message that I really enjoy your blog. Not only the green conservative message, but the consistently good writing -- something unfortunately not common enough in the blogosphere.


Chas S. Clifton said...

I guess that M. and I will have to rename the bend in the little road behind our house, a bend that sort of marks a border between dog territories.

Formerly "Dog Shit Corner," it will now be "Scumber Corner." Sounds so much more folkloric, don't you think?