Friday, November 20, 2015


Photograph by Charles Jorgensen, National Geographic Your Shot

Today's vocabulary word is "pronking." (with "stotting" making an appearance as well.)

 (prôngk, prŏngk)
intr.v. pronked, pronk·ing, pronks
To leap or bound high in the air with the legs straight and the back arched, as do certain animals, especially the springbok.

[Afrikaans, to show off, strut, from Dutch pronken, from Middle Dutch proncken, to walk ostentatiously, parade; akin to German prunken, to parade, show off, and Middle English pranken, to show off; see prank2.]

sheep do it too...
...and deer
Even a fox sometimes makes several consecutive bounds when hunting.

Using it in a sentence:  The antelope are pronking in the new meadow-grass.

To illustrate in a video: GO HERE

Another similarly fun word is "stotting"

stot  or stott (stŏt)

intr.v. stot·ted, stot·ting, stots or stotts

To leap or bound high in the air with the legs straight, as do certain antelopes and deer.

from: WorldWideWords


You’ve probably seen nature films in which antelope or gazelle are suddenly surprised by a cheetah. Before they run away, and also while they are running, the animals do a weird pouncing prance, in which they leap into the air, all four legs stiff and back arched. This is stotting.

Quite why they do it isn’t understood, though it may be a form of alarm signal, or a good way to get a better view of the ground ahead, or they may have been bribed by the producer to make the pictures more interesting.

The word comes from Scots, where it means to bounce, or to make something bounce against a surface. Its origin is sadly obscure. In Orkney, the same verb can mean to stutter, so it may be linked to that verb through Middle English stuten, to stutter.

A rare native English sighting is in R S Surtees’ Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour of 1851: “Up started a great hare; bang! went the gun with the hare none the worse. Bang! went the other barrel, which the hare acknowledged by two or three stotting bounds and an increase of pace. ‘Well missed!’ exclaimed Mr Sponge”.

There is a story that the famous Newcastle stotty cake — a flat disc of soft bread, traditionally baked from left-over dough in the bottom of the oven — takes its name from the same source. The story goes that no local cook would consider a stotty cake properly made unless it bounced when she threw it on the kitchen floor. Make of this item of comestible folklorics what you will.

You may like to know that there’s another name for the leaping run of the gazelle, pronk, which comes via Afrikaans from the Dutch pronken, to strut. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"When gazelles are faced with a predator that they can outrun, they will engage in a behavior called stotting, which consists of continuously leaping into the air with all four legs held straight. At first glance, this energy-expending behavior seems like a deadly choice when faced with a predator; however, research has found that predators are less likely to pursue stotting gazelles and stotting gazelles are more likely to outrun predators if chased, suggesting that this behavior is an honest signal of fitness (FitzGibbon & Fanshawe, 1988). "

Even ballet dancers do it!  Juilliard Dance in Larry Keigwin’s Exit Like an Animal.
© Rosalie O’Connor.