What Does the Word “dinosaur” Mean?

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The word “dinosaur” is derived from Greek words; it loosely translates as “terrible lizard” from the root words “deinos,” meaning “terrible” or “fearfully great,” and “sauros,” meaning “lizard” or “reptile.” Sir Richard Owen, the man who created this taxon, intended the word “terrible” to imply something awe-inspiring and magnificent rather than something scary and terrifying.

Another perhaps unintended consequence of Owen’s name is the fact that it implies that dinosaurs are lizards, which they are not; they are reptiles. Owen, who formally granted the name in 1842, knew that dinosaurs were not lizards, but rather assumed that lizards and dinosaurs were somehow genetically linked.