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ZEBRATAUR

noun; blending and clipping
A creature with the torso of a human attached to the lower body of a zebra, having four legs on the zebra half and two human arms on the human half. Most likely, the cointer was seeking to describe a way to express how bizarre a particular situation was. In order to express something bizarre, he or she looked to mythology. However, using 'centaur' or 'minotaur' might be interpreted by listeners as a reference to mythology rather than to the bizarre situation. So he or she formed the word 'zebrataur' to express something very unusual, unlikely, or bizarre. Additionally, since mythology contains references of centaurs but no zebrataurs, this word expresses something perhaps more unusual. It appears to be modeled after the word 'centaur', which refers to a mythological creature with a human torso, but the lower body of a horse. Another similar word is 'minotaur', which refers to a mythological half human, half bull. It appears at though these words have been reanalyzed to containing a '-taur' suffix, which means something like 'having a human torso and an animal's lower body'. In this case, the animal is indicated by the root. From the context, and the word 'trotting', it appears the speaker is referring to a creature that has four zebra legs and a human torso, rather than a two-legged zebra-like lower body. This reanalysis seems to come from the mythological words 'centaur' and 'minotaur'. Although the 'cen' and 'mino' parts do not indicate animals, it appears that at some point the words were analyzed this way. Another possibility is that the word 'zebrataur' is simply modeled on these two words, due to the common 'taur' syllable. However, I do not believe this is the case, since a quick search of the internet reveals other formations such as 'foxtaur' and 'cattaur'. Thus a reanalysis of '-taur' as a suffix seems most likely.
 
Next thing you know, there'll be zebrataurs trotting around.
Etymology : zebra the animal + -taur most likely reanalyzed from or modeled on centaur or minotaur, having the upper body of a human and the lower body of an animal
Source : Conversation with a friend
Last modified: 10 June 2008


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