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Webster's 7th Collegiate Dictionary lists the suffix -therium
[NL, fr. Gk therion] (macron over the "e" of therion) : beast :
animal -- in generic names of extinct mammalian forms <Mega-
The Greek word "theri'on" (theta-eta-rho-iota-omicron-nu) is in form
a diminutive of "ther" (theta-eta-rho), but doesn't have any
diminutive force; both words mean "wild animal" or "animal" ("therion"
is more commonly used in prose). It is applied especially to wild
animals that are hunted, sometimes opposed to grazing animals,
sometimes especially of beasts that are hostile to man. Sometimes
the term is applied to beasts as opposed to fishes, birds, and men,
sometimes it includes fishes or even insects. In the New Testament,
Acts 28.4, it is even used of a viper (echidna).
The English word "treacle" is a derivative (from Gk "theriake" =
antidote against a poisonous bite).
"Ther" is traced back to the Indo-European root *ghwer- which is
also the source of the Latin "ferus" (wild), from which we get
words like feral, fierce, ferocious, and of a Lithuanian word
meaning "wild beast." "Ther" is also the first element in "theropod."
George Pesely email@example.com
Associate Professor of History, Austin Peay State University