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Animal-related Adjectives

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Hello everyone! We hope you're having a great start to the week :)

Today's lesson is about animals... actually, about using adjectives related to animals!

The names of animals are among the first words learned by learners of any language... However, learning the related adjectives can be a bit confusing.

Let's start with a few words which are derived from Latin:

1. canine (from the Latin word 'canis') = use this word when talking about things associated with dogs.

E.g. Those canine accessories are really cute!

2. equine (from the Latin word 'equus')= use this word when talking about things related to horses.

E.g. My grandmother loved horses. She had six equine figurines on her shelf!

3. elephantine = Similar to 'canine' and 'equine' this word can be used when talking about things related to... elephants, of course!

E.g. He had a very elephantine shape... A very broad chest, round stomach and long, strong legs!


The more common animal names have also been used to form adjectives.

4. horsey (from 'horse') - E.g. Susie has a horsey laugh = Her laugh resembles the sound a horse would make.

5. doggy (from 'dog') - E.g. His brother has doggy brown eyes = His brother's eyes are big and brown, resembling a dog's.

6. catty (from 'cat') - E.g. She passed a very catty comment, and really upset her mother = She said something intentionally hurtful or spiteful to her mother.

7. fishy (from 'fish') - E.g. The room had a distinctly fishy smell = The room smelled of fish.

8. ratty (from 'rat') - E.g. Dirk's face has remarkably ratty features = Dirk's face resembles that of a rat.

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You can also form adjectives by combining the form -like to the name of an animal. It is usually neutral or even positive in tone, but it really depends on the typical associations of the animal involved.

Here are two examples:

9. catlike = someone who moves in a stealthy manner.

10. lamb-like = a gentle, quiet person.

However, adjectives formed by adding the suffixes -y or -ish to the names of animals are mainly negative.

11. sheepish = used to describe someone who is embarrassed because they have done something wrong.

12. sluggish = used to describe someone who moves in a slow or lazy way.

13. waspish = used to describe someone's aggressive or bad temper.

Complete the sentences below by using the correct animal adjective!

  • 1. She is such a meek and kind person... She is almost
  • 2. Tom gave me such a grin, I was sure he had been up to something naughty...
  • 3. I'm always very in the morning. It takes me a few hours to wake up.
  • 4. Mary loses her temper rather quickly. I can understand why John described her .
  • 5. I was really offended by the remarks he passed last night.
  • 6. Did mum cook seafood for dinner? The whole house smells !
  • 7. I could hear her loud laugh from outside the house!
  • 8. Have you visited the stables lately? There are quite a few new members of the family.