One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Resembling or characteristic of a panther; dark or spotted like a panther; powerful, lithe, graceful.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Blount (1618–1679), antiquary and lexicographer. From classical Latin panthērīnus of a leopard or similar animal, having markings typical of such an animal from panthēra + -īnus.
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