amphibious


amphibious
\ \ [17] The Greek prefix amphimeant ‘both, on both sides’ (hence an amphitheatre [14]: Greek and Roman theatres were semicircular, so two joined together, completely surrounding the arena, formed an amphitheatre). Combination with bioslife’ (as in biology) produced the Greek adjective amphibios, literally ‘leading a double life’. From the beginning of its career as an English word it was used in a very wide, general sense of ‘combining two completely distinct or opposite conditions or qualities’ (Joseph Addison, for example, used it as an 18th-century equivalent of modern unisex), but that meaning has now almost entirely given way to the word’s zoological application. At first, amphibious meant broadly ‘living on both land and water’, and so was applied by some scientists to, for example, seals; but around 1819 the zoologist William Macleay proposed the more precise application, since generally accepted, to frogs, newts, and other members of the class Amphibia whose larvae have gills but whose adults breathe with lungs.
\ \ Cf.BIOLOGY

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Amphibious — means able to use either land or water. In particular it may refer to:*Amphibious warfare, warfare carried out on both land and water *Amphibians, vertebrate animals of the Class Amphibia (many of which live on land and breed in water)… …   Wikipedia

  • Amphibious — Am*phib i*ous, a. [Gr. amfi bios living a double life, i. e., both on land in water; amfi + bi os life.] 1. Having the ability to live both on land and in water, as frogs, crocodiles, beavers, and some plants. [1913 Webster] 2. Pertaining to,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • amphibious — (adj.) 1640s, from Gk. amphibios having a double life (see AMPHIBIAN (Cf. amphibian)). Of motor vehicles, from 1915 …   Etymology dictionary

  • amphibious — ► ADJECTIVE 1) living in or suited for both land and water. 2) (of a military operation) involving forces landed from the sea. DERIVATIVES amphibiously adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • amphibious — [am fib′ē əs] adj. [Gr amphibios, living a double life < amphi , AMPHI + bios, life: see BIO ] 1. that can live both on land and in water 2. that can operate or travel on both land and water 3. designating, of, or for a military operation… …   English World dictionary

  • amphibious — [[t]æmfɪ̱biəs[/t]] 1) ADJ: ADJ n In an amphibious military operation, army and navy forces attack a place from the sea. A third brigade is at sea, ready for an amphibious assault. 2) ADJ: ADJ n An amphibious vehicle is able to move on both land… …   English dictionary

  • amphibious — adjective Etymology: Greek amphibios, literally, living a double life, from amphi + bios mode of life more at quick Date: 1643 1. combining two characteristics 2. a. relating to or adapted for both land and water < amphibious vehicles > b.… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • amphibious — am|phib|i|ous [æmˈfıbiəs] adj [Date: 1600 1700; : Greek; Origin: amphibios living a double life , from amphi round, on both sides, both + bios way of life ] 1.) able to live on both land and water ▪ amphibious creatures 2.) amphibious vehicle a… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • amphibious — am|phib|i|ous [ æm fıbiəs ] adjective 1. ) capable of being used both on water or on land: an amphibious vehicle 2. ) capable of living both in water and on land: fossils of amphibious creatures from millions of years ago 3. ) relating to a… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • amphibious — adjective 1 able to live on both land and water 2 amphibious vehicle a vehicle that is able to move on land and water 3 amphibious operation/force/assault an amphibious operation etc involves ships and land vehicles …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • amphibious — UK [æmˈfɪbɪəs] / US adjective 1) capable of living both in water and on land The exhibition at the Natural History Museum includes fossils of amphibious creatures from millions of years ago. 2) capable of being used both on water and on land an… …   English dictionary


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