Etymological missing link
April 19, 2017 12:52 PM Subscribe
I learned today that at some point before their extinction, Great Auks were commonly known as penguins. Europeans traveling near the edges of the Southern hemisphere saw birds that reminded them of auks, so they called them penguins. Then Great Auks became extinct, and the only penguins left were the birds that had been given that name based on a misunderstanding. Is there a term for this linguistic phenomenon, where a link in an etymological chain has ceased to exist? Are there other common examples?