The Latin classification of the Armadillo is Dasypus, which directly translates to gorilla in English.

Can someone explain why that is, I am confused.

  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it seems to be about ancient Latin taxonomy, not English. Jun 28, 2018 at 13:27
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    @FumbleFingers Why do you allow both latin and translation tags then? Jun 28, 2018 at 13:33
  • I don't "allow" tagnames. Firstly because I'm not a mod, and secondly because I'm not sure even they can easily overrule tagnames (which can be created by anyone with at least 300 rep points). Anyway, it's perfectly possible for Latin and translation to be used as valid tags on questions here. I just happen to think this particular question is about a domain-specific issue of history / taxonomy / Latin, only distantly related to English language & usage. Jun 28, 2018 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


Though your ostensible question is a bit rarefied, there is a lot to follow on.

  • 'Armadillo' is borrowed into English from Spanish. The Spanish word is literally 'little armored one'

  • The Greek-English 'Dasypus' was given to the armadillo in the 1800's by biologists following the Linnaean binomial classification system, that is, as a neologism. The word was constructed out of Greek roots, and is intended to mean, by analysis of its roots, 'hairy foot'. Presumably those biologists noticed of all things about the armadillo that the one special thing that stood out was, not its strangely thick turtle-like shell, but its tiny, unnaturally hirsute paws.

  • 'Gorilla' in English is a direct borrowing from ancient Greek 'gorillai', which presumably means something in ancient Greek, probably 'Gorilla'.

  • As to how you found this connection, I can only presume you used Google Translate as that is the only online presence I can find that connects Dasypus in Latin to Gorilla in English. As you may notice, under the alternative suggestions for a translation, GT gives: aspergillus (a bread mold related to penicillin), sus (pig), gallus (chicken), bos (cow), neurospora (another mold), and volemys (some kind of mouse?).

    As simultaneously clever and brain dead as collecting statistical collections of collocations is, there is one thing that is similar about all these items. They are living things, mostly animals. There is a very loud amusement park right in front of my present lodgings. But that's as good as GT has gotten with Latin. It has offered Gorilla as a translation of Dasypus only because Gorilla was the marginally highest frequency of many many many very very very low frequency instances. You asked for an answer; it has to give something as an answer and it picked the best one out of many poor ones.

So it is obvious the reason is numerically unstable matrix operations.

  • 1
    +1 and I'm surprised you can hear yourself think above the din.
    – Robusto
    Jun 28, 2018 at 15:01
  • It is indeed great and goes straight to the problem one encounters with "the unbearable GT." (smile). I shall quote you henceforth: numerically unstable matrix operations.
    – Lambie
    Jun 28, 2018 at 16:14

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