The word ostrich is named after three different types of birds, as well as the word bird itself. Through Anglo-Norman ostrige via Old French ostruce, ostrich has roots in the a Latin portmanteau of the words avis, meaning "bird", and struthio, meaning "ostrich". So the word ostrich is kind of redundant in that it actually means ostrich bird. Cool. Avis has a boring etymology: from Proto-Italic awis, from Proto-Indo-European hewis, still meaning "bird". It's struthio that's interesting. It comes from the Greek word struthion, which meant "ostrich", from the earlier Greek word struthos, which meant "sparrow" (apparently ostriches look like big sparrows to the Greeks), probably from Proto-Indo-European trozdo, which meant "thrush". The Greeks called the ostrich a struthokamelos, or "camel-sparrow", again because of its size. Approximately 1 in every 100,000 words written down is "ostrich", and usage has been declining since the mid-1800s.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.