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Chris -- 2015-05-30

#1 2009-05-09 00:40:11

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2251

kodak bear << kodiak bear

Kodiak bears are the largest species of brown bear. Their native range is confined to some islands on Alaska’s Kodiak archipelago

I know the first time I read about these bears I thought they were “Kodak” bears, named, perhaps, for their stellar photographic potential. Apparently I’m not alone. On several web pages that mention the bear the name is spelled without the “i.” Examples below. Note that the writer in the first example confesses to the confusion.

Photography sight “I always called them “ Kodak bears,” ‘cause they were always good for a Kodak moment. ” [Hold cursor over Kodiak bear picture to see this text]

Rugby club news “The sight of Bruiser passing Nathan Hynes in the airport was akin to two Kodak bears invading each others territory,”

Flyfishing newsletterKodak bears shared the rivers and stream amiably with our group, and we are
thankful of that.”

There are also a number of web pages that reverse the error, using the phrase “Kodiak film” ( This is probably a typo or a malapropism–hard to conceive what imagery might motivate the mistake.



#2 2009-05-09 22:24:06

From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 991

Re: kodak bear << kodiak bear

Perhaps they’re making an association with those famous wilderness landscape photos by Ansel “Grizzly” Adams.

I’m surprised you didn’t go into the significance of this special Ms. Lehmann case. Both Kodiak and Kodak are proper names, I think, but Kodak has strong connotations and even denotations which inform the eggcorn. So everyone must be happy.

I note the previous posts about the connection between the brown bear’s brown cousin, the grizzly and the word grisly (link). These have mostly gone in the grisly ═> grizzly direction (i.e. a grizzly scene).The other direction makes a lot more sense. Here are a few more examples. First, some grizzly ═> gristly switches. Then some truly grisly Saturday night campfire stories for young men.

Big predator defence:
If you get close enough to a gristly bear to stick him with that knife then you either have balls of brass or are just plain stupid.
( … rgans.html)

Bollywood news:
hahahaha! rajshekhar is a gone case. naga Babu is like a Gristly bear.
( … prowl.html)

The Young Man’s Evening Book (1851):
A party of voyagers, who had been employed all day in tracing a canoe up the Saskatchewan, had seated themselves in the twilight by a fire, and were busy in preparing their supper, when a large Grisly Bear sprung over their canoe that was tilted behind them and seizing one of the party by the shoulders carried him off. [...] I am told there is a man now living in the neighborhood of Edmonton House, who was attacked by a Grisly Bear which sprung out of a thicket, and with one stroke of his paw completely scalped him, laying bare the skull, and bringing the skin of the forehead down over his eyes. Assistance coming up, the Bear made off without doing him farther injury, but the scalp not being replaced, the poor man has lost his sight, although he thinks that his eyes are uninjured.
( … k-99.shtml)

Just to clear up the etymology of these, which wasn’t done earlier, if you will bear with me, Kem. Grisly (OE) has pretty well always meant exactly what it does today. Gristle is of course a barbecuing term referring to cartilage and chewy connective tissue; it too is unchanged since OE days. It reminds us that these bears are physical; sinew and bone. (If you should see a grizzly on the trail, you will not need to be reminded of this fact, nor of your own comestibility.) Grizzly has two origins. First, I am grizzled and grizzly (since 1594) because my hair is gris, following the Old French. Second, the Online Etymology Dictionary suggests that grizzly bear comes from a grisly ═> grizzly switch. I’m not convinced of this, since in fact the grizzly bear’s fur is undoubtedly grizzly (link). It’s also called the silver-tip bear. So somewhere along the line there is a deep eggcornish confusion, probably since the beginning. We should probably see what the natives and the coureurs-de-bois called it, they would have named it first.

Last edited by burred (2009-05-09 22:28:43)



#3 2009-05-10 01:25:49

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2251

Re: kodak bear << kodiak bear

Thanks for the ursine enlargement. Like you, I think “grizzly” must come from “grizzled.”

Grizzlies may or may not be gristly bears. Myself, I’ve never tried to eat one.

Ansel Grizzly Adams. Wasn’t he Karl Groucho Marx’s cousin?

Grizzled since 1594? You really are pur laine.



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