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I read here that the Arabic word بطريق (penguin) ultimately derives from Latin patricius (patrician), through Greek and Aramaic, but I couldn't find any explanation of how and why the shift in meaning happened, nor I could find if there is any cognate in other languages with the same meaning of "penguin". How could the meaning go from "patrician" to "penguin"?

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    The most obvious way is by the stately look of penguins which could remind the look of aristocrats such as patricians. Anyhow, it looks like every explanation is going to be purely subjective.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jan 17 at 19:23
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    Also, note the Arabic word بَطَّة‎ f (baṭṭa) “a duck” (wiktionary) that could have influenced the shift of meaning in بطريق.
    – Yellow Sky
    Jan 17 at 19:52
  • I second @YellowSky here: The "dress" of the pinguin could have inspired the name. Similarly, there are some black-and-white cats called Tuxedo cats after that specific suit, again for the obvious reason. Jan 17 at 21:23

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This (History SE) answer claims that the term was first used by Bishara Zalzal in an article in Al-muktataf magazine (here is a link indicating that the article exists). The report is that

I used al-batriq as the Arabic name for this bird because in Latin it is named penguin which means the "chubby bird" and batriq means the same thing in Arabic

Obtaining a copy to verify the claim may be tricky. Obviously, you need to know where the word first was used in Arabic.

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  • Interesting. This in turn raises the question: where is بطريق attested in the meaning of "chubby bird" before the article you mention? Jan 17 at 23:48
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    @UndefinedBehavior - If you split the word بطريق by extracting بط, the “duck” part of it, what is left is ريق which means “in fool bloom; blooming”, and doesn't “chubby duck” mean “duck in full bloom”?
    – Yellow Sky
    Jan 18 at 6:56

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