Once again the NY Times has increased my vocabulary. A story about a small New Mexico town describes its current state of decay: “And these days, more animals than people can be found wandering the streets. Quail, javelinas and the occasional mountain lion strut through empty cul-de-sacs…” Quail and mountain lions I know, but javelinas were new to me. It turns out javelina (pronounced hah-v@-LEE-n@) is a synonym for collared peccary and has an interesting etymology:
Alteration of Spanish jabalina, feminine of jabalí, jabalín, wild boar, from Arabic (hinzir) jabal, mountain (swine), from jabal, mountain; see gbl in Semitic roots.
Do not be deceived, incidentally, by the popular etymology given at pages like this: “They are called Javelina because of their razor-sharp tusks, Spanish for javelin or spear.” Remember, buy your etymologies only from authorized vendors! Use of amateur etymologies can invalidate your warranty and may cause public embarrassment.