|Ox (above), water buffalo (below). But|
don't take my word. Use your dicker!
Skimming through someone’s words I noticed: An ox is not a water buffalo.
Ox (more particularly its plural: oxen) goes a long way back with me. I first sang "Once in Royal David's city" in primary school. The carol, popular in the UK, includes the line "… with the oxen standing by..."
This made me think. My English vocabulary, like most other people's, consists of words which
I HAVE NEVER VERIFIED IN A DICTIONARY
Take "frying pan"? There's no need, is there? A frying pan is self-evident. Quite different from "hermeneutics" which I have looked up at least half a dozen times and promptly forgotten.
There are other words I’ve looked up, less well-known than "frying pan" but not exactly obscure. A teacher asked students what “democracy” meant. Most could only come up with "regular elections". But would I have done any better? It turned out there was a lot I'd forgotten. Much worse, there was a lot I'd never known.
But where to start rectifying this? Unverified words form most of my vocabulary, thousands and thousands. Perhaps I should start with "frying pan".
For starters, I checked out ox and water buffalo. Yes there was stuff I hadn't known. But should I have known this stuff?
Ox: a castrated bull used as a draught animal.
Ox: any domesticated bovine animal kept for milk or meat; a cow or bull.
Ox: used in names of wild animals related to or resembling a domesticated ox, eg, musk ox.
Water buffalo: At least 130 million water buffaloes exist, and more people depend on them than on any other domestic animal. They are especially suitable for tilling rice fields, and their milk is richer in fat and protein than that of dairy cattle.
Only about 40,000 more to go.