One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A hyrax, especially the rock hyrax of southern Africa.
Family Procaviidae, in particular Procavia capensis
- ‘They have observed that when caracal numbers in their region are moderate, that there is an increase in natural prey animals such as hares, steenbok and dassies.’
- ‘Mountain rhebuck, duiker, jackal, mongoose, porcupine and dassie now live in the Reserve.’
- ‘Some of these dassies, these hyraxes, went into the rocks, but this one actually climbs into the treetops.’
- ‘Back at the campsite, spotted hyenas and dassies can be seen at dusk and into the night.’
- ‘The fur of a dassie rat is soft and silky, but there is no underfur.’
Late 18th century: from Afrikaans, from South African Dutch dasje, diminutive of Dutch das ‘badger’; the fish is said to have been named because of a perceived resemblance (in its habit of frequenting rocks, or from its shy nature) to the rock hyrax.
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