Thursday, 25 September 2008

As Dead as a Dodo: Origin and Meaning

As dead as a Dodo means dead as in extinct. There is consensus as to the meaning. Something that has disappeared entirely from the face of the earth. It is no longer around. Although Dodo refers to a flightless bird the expression can be used for other criteria such as customs, beliefs, objects, animals, anything that is no longer around or in use.
Origin. A flightless bird encountered by the Portuguese on the Island of Mauritius in the 1570’s was named a Dodo, from the Portuguese word meaning stupid.
Why Stupid?
It would appear as though the Dodo was an ungainly bird. A flightless pigeon with a big fat round body, about the size of a goose with imperfect wings that were no use for flying and underdeveloped legs that could barely carry the weight of the body.
The Dodo had no enemies and could wander about Mauritius without fear. This, over time, made them slow and clumsy. Having no fear they were easily killed by explorers, and their cats and dogs. Basically an ugly bird.
Another possible source of the name is from Dutch ‘dodoor” meaning sluggish or slow, and also from a Dutch word meaning “plump arse”. The Portuguese were in Mauritius about 100 years before the Dutch and my personal belief is that the Portuguese version has more merit.
Another version maintains that the dodo derived its name from the sound it made…”doooo …..dooooo”
If I was a betting person, I would bet on thr Portuguese option.
As far as I can determine all the birds had been killed by the 1800’s, never to be seen again.
Image and greater detail at Wikipedia
Source: Based on "Book of Knowledge"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dodo with generic viagra but, What is that? I can't understand, because seems like a dug, but it look like an other specie. I don't know why but I don't believe that version.