In a TLS book review (Aug. 3) of The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, the
reviewer, Emily Wilson, cites Isidore's etymology of 'the tiger' from tigris
"so called because of its rapid flight, for this is what the Persians and Medes
call an arrow."
I've seen this etymology repeated many times (and given in dictionaries), but
wonder if, in fact, 'arrow' is the original meaning of the Greek tigris.
Would not an Indian word (meaning something like 'terrible beast' or 'striped
beast'), perhaps via Persian, be more likely?
And then Tigris seems to become conflated with the river Tigris, also said to
mean 'arrow'. I have seen alternative explanations for the river's name,
e.g. from the Sumerian 'river with high banks'. Is there a known derivation?
Any help in understanding the root(s) of Tiger or Tigris would be much
All good wishes,
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