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Designed to help Latin students, this online dictionary is a good starting place for getting an idea as to what those scientific names mean in English.

New link?
The link above did not work for me, but I believe the link below is the updated version. Perhaps someone who has used the older version can comment?


I have searched many times online for just such a thing. I played with it some and I can tell I'll be using this quite a bit. I like that Patrick sometimes explains the meaning of the latin name in his guide pages. I'll try to do the same.

Neat Source. Ouch, That Dictionary!
Yes, this is a neat source. I tried a few I knew already, like rufiventris—worked great. I also tried some I didn't know: Cicindela (genus name in Tiger Beetles) translates as a candle or a firefly! No help for my Tiger Beetle species name Ancocisconensis.

I looked at Amazon for the Dictionary of Entomology. Should I get the $150 one by Wrobel or the other one by Gordh that only costs $140? Ouch! Maybe I can find a used one.


Stephen Cresswell
Buckhannon, WV

Dictionaries, origin of Ancocisconensis
I got the one by Gordh--found it used for $55, paperback. (I wasn't interested enough to spring for a new one.) Try is a big bookstore in Oregon where I actually found that. I haven't seen the other dictionary you mention.

Again, Gordh doesn't help, usually, with many specific and generic names--there are just too many and they are too obscure.

Ancocisco is a place name in Maine, see Ancocisco Bay Islands: Depending on which are counted as islands, there are about 140 in Casco Bay. When first settled, area Indians called it ancocisco, "place of the Herons," a word from which Casco may be derived.

The suffix "-nensis" is Latin means "coming from" or "inhabitant of". I found that on Google by searching "nensis suffix" without the quotes. I have a Latin dictionary, but I was too lazy to get up and get it. I've seen that in other insect and plant names, such as "arizonensis" and "carolinensis".

Google knows all, sometimes.

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

Excellent--other sources for etymology
Neat to see that resource. I'll have to play with it in the future. I took Latin in high school and college, and now may get some more mileage out of it.

Often so-called "Latin" names are actually Greek. Those educated 18th and 19th century biologists were usually conversant with both. The Greek roots can be hard. (I started to learn Classical Greek at one point, but have put it off for retirement.) Sometimes there are subtle little jokes from classical mythology embedded in the (especially) genus names. I need to get a good dictionary of mythology for help on those.

Google is always a good tool. I attempt to discern the root in a name and then Google the root. The excellent "Do you Mean..." feature on Google has found the right (apparently) answer several times when I guessed the root wrong. (Psellus as the apparent origin of Pselliopus was the best example.)

I do look in A Dictionary of Entomology sometimes--that is one of Troy's references. It is good on terms, but usually does not have the obscure genus names.

Anybody has any other good methods, I'd be delighted to hear about them.

Entomological entymology can be quite fun, and sometimes illustrates something about the critter that was not obvious.

Patrick Coin
Durham, North Carolina

Some neat examples
I entered a few species names, and found some neat examples of the possible origins of the insect's names:

Wheel Bug - A. cristatus -"cristatus" translates to: tufted, crested, having a comb/tuft on the head.

Western Conifer Seedbug - L. occidentalis - "occidentalis" translates to: of/pertaining to/connected with/coming from the west.

Grass-Like Mantid - T. graminis - "graminis" translates to: grass, turf; herb; plant.

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