Nugget of Knowledge: Penguins

Penguins are named after an earlier, now extinct bird

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – How did the penguin get its name?

You can split the word into two parts: pen and guin.

In Welsh, pen means “head” and gwyn, or guin, means “white” — literally, it means “white head”.

But penguins have black heads.

The name penguin may originally have referred to another bird, the great auk, now extinct, but one which had a white head.

It also lived in cold water and did not fly and had black and white distinctive features.

When explorers traveled to the Southern Hemisphere, they saw black and white birds that resembled auks, and called them penguins.

But why a Welsh word?

One early sea voyage had Sir Francis Drake sailing around the world in 1577. His crew members were all Welshmen, and the first to name the birds “penguins” from their native language.

Did you miss an episode of Daybreak or want to re-visit a previous ‘Nugget’? View previous ‘Nugget of Knowledge’ entries on WYTV.com.

If you have an idea for a ‘Nugget of Knowledge,’ send your idea in an email to Len.Rome@wytv.com.