What do you call the aquatic equivalent of an ornithopter?
January 12, 2020 4:33 AM   Subscribe

An ornithopter is a machine that flaps its wings to fly. What would you call a vehicle that propels itself in the water with a swimming motion?

I'm interested in a word that rolls nicely off the tongue, but could plausibly have been coined alongside "ornithopter". Icthyo- something?

I know there's a few experimental robots that use penguin-like flippers or fish-like undulation, but I've never seen this sort of robot given a snappy generic name.

Ornithopter is a French-coined word rooted in ancient Greek, and my knowledge of those is pretty limited. For consistency I'd rather stick with Greek and avoid a Latin root.

Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by Lorc to Writing & Language (15 answers total)
“Rowboat” works for rowboats.
posted by pompomtom at 4:39 AM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Opsariopterux? Hard to make it snappy!
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 4:43 AM on January 12, 2020

You take the ornithopter, I'll take the ichthyscaphe.
posted by flabdablet at 4:44 AM on January 12, 2020 [20 favorites]

Sticking with the Greek, here are a few options I cobbled together:
- thalassiapter, from thalassia for marine + pteron for wing
- talantevepter, from talantévetai for to swing/dangle + pteron for wing
- kymatizopter, from kymatizo for undulate + Greek pteron for wing
- or possibly just neropter, from nero for water + Greek pteron for wing
posted by cocoagirl at 5:14 AM on January 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

posted by Sterros at 5:23 AM on January 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

piscus motus?
posted by coppertop at 5:41 AM on January 12, 2020

What would you call a vehicle that propels itself in the water with a swimming motion?

posted by pompomtom at 6:13 AM on January 12, 2020

kolimbarc, very roughly from swim and boat (I may have got it badly wrong, but so did lots of English speakers coining greekish words that got accepted into the language!)
posted by moonmilk at 6:37 AM on January 12, 2020

Why not "Ichthyopter" ?
Maybe not technically correct, but it sounds nice and fins are kinda winglike..

Edit: Apparently this is my 1000th ask mefi answer, and it's only taken 19 years... Yay me?
posted by jozxyqk at 6:55 AM on January 12, 2020 [7 favorites]

If ornithopter is more or less "birdwing," then wouldn't you want "fishfin" or "fishtail?"

Those would be something vaguely like icthyopterugia or icthyo-oura, but obvs you'd need someone who knows how to "correctly" put together sciencish words out of whatever form of Greek gets scientized.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:17 AM on January 12, 2020

for kayaks, the name is Hobie
posted by scruss at 8:00 AM on January 12, 2020

Not Greek again, but “autonauta” sounds really nice to me.
posted by Sterros at 2:29 PM on January 12, 2020

Came here to suggest "icthyomarine" but "icthyscaphe" is the winner. I want one!
posted by phliar at 1:03 PM on January 13, 2020

As the coiner of that word according to DuckDuckGo, it apparently falls to me to insist that it not be used without its full complement of aitches.

Ichthyscaphe, if you please.
posted by flabdablet at 5:37 PM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I vaguely remember a word being used in the show SeqQuest DSV where someone had developed a small single person submarine that was able to swim like the dolphins but I just can't remember what it was.
posted by koolkat at 1:18 AM on January 14, 2020

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