Missing word

You would really think I should have something better to do with my time, and I do, but this is really bugging me.

Wandering through a bookshop in Taipei on Saturday I remembered that I want a thesaurus. I found one, eventually, and by way of experiment looked up ‘assinine’.

This is a word I’ve been aware of for a long time, and thought was real, but it wasn’t in the book. It wasn’t in the Oxford, Websters, Cambridge, Collins or any other dictionaries either.

Is this something I dreamt up? And if so, why do my (native speaking) colleagues all think it’s a real word too? What’s going on?

If you too are screwing around to avoid doing anything useful today, then why not distract yourself for a few moments by checking your reference books, or telling me what I’m doing wrong?


Of course spelling the word right might help:


(Wolf beat me to it.)

But assinine is also a word. Some of these other words for animal-like may also have been missing.

alligator (eusuchian); ant (formicine, myrmecine); anteater (myrmecophagine); antelope (alcelaphine, bubaline); ape (simian); armadillo (tolypeutine); ass (assinine); auk (alcidine); barracuda (percesocine); bat (pteropine); bear(ursine); bee (apiarian); bird (avian, muscicapine, oscine, passerine, penduline, volucrine); blackbird (icterine); bluebird (turdine); bobolink (icterine); buffalo (bubaline); bullfinch (pyrrhuline); bunting (emberizine, pyrrhuloxine); buzzard (buteonine, cathartine); calf (vituline); camel (cameline); cardinal (pyrrhuloxine); cat (feline); chamois (rupicaprine); civet (viverrine); cormorant (phalacrocoracine); cow (bovine, vaccine); crab (cancrine); crane (alectorine); crow (corvine); cuckoo (cuculine); deer (cervine, elaphine); dodo (didine). . .

Whenever I look for English/Chinese dictionaries, I always check for the words ironic and sarcastic. Most dictionaries post almost identical explanations. Does anybody else have any regular test words in assessing a good Chinese-English/ English-Chinese dictionary?

I think the above posters have exercised considerable restraint over the ‘asinine’ misspeller, given the meaning of the word an’ all! I guess the ‘joke’ is just too obvious - made me smile though. Thx for that:)
For what it’s worth I would have spelled it with the extra ‘s’ had I not read this thread.

Gee thanks folks!

There are seven red-faced teachers of english in the room with me. Yes, we all spelled it wrong.

Sometimes I think that reality needs to make more effort to accomodate human stupidity. The world would be a much easier place to live in if it did.

I reeecommennd carryink a liddle PDA wid a spell checker for future visits to the outside world.
nuff sad…said


Yes I do have some words that I always check in a dictionary:


Hold on a second.

You didn’t spell it wrong . You merely gave a different spelling. In fact the dictionaries that they use in Taiwan probably use American spelling most of the time. It is also common that dictionaries do not include many scientific words. Therefore you shouldn’t feel so stupid. Personally I think a-s-i-n-i-n-e- looks assinine compared to a-s-s-i-n-i-n-e. Much clearer.

Now I’m off to look for ‘arsegon’

Or seven people posing as English teachers, eh? :unamused:

OED 2nd Ed. 1989

asinine ('aesinain) a. Also. 7-8 ass-. [ad. L. asinius, f. asinus ass: see -INE.]

  1. Of or pertaining to asses.