Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

10 September, 2012

Words, Words, Words: Endling

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

During a random wiki walk yesterday, I stumbled upon a word I’d never heard before: endling¬†– the last living member of a species.

This is possibly the saddest single word I have ever heard. I don’t think there’s any need to explain the etymology on this one – it’s the end, with a sad little diminutive tacked on. It’s both poetic and childish and tragic. At the same time, it’s a great example of how language can be so cool sometimes.

See, obviously I know that there are species on the verge of extinction, and that in some cases there is only one member left, and this is sad. When they have names like Lonesome George, it gets sadder. But when you name the whole group¬†endlings, well, that’s just utterly heart-breaking. I picture other animals weeping and Find the Lady singing the extinct-song.

And I think that’s a good thing. We should be broken up about this. Look at the picture of the passenger pigeon on wikipedia, and consider that is was the very last of its kind – doesn’t it just extrude sadness? Endling doesn’t appear to be a widely accepted term – it actually kind of looks like it was invented by some wikipedia person. I haven’t found much other use of it, except in a news article that was clearly based strongly on said wikipedia article. I think it should see use, though. It makes more of an impact than a longer phrase would.

I’m adding this to my vocabulary – although I hope I won’t have much opportunity to use it in everyday speech. A word as good as this must surely win ground and end up in the dictionaries some day.


  1. It IS lovely. While I know that is not what makes it so potent a word, you could maybe be able to introduce the word into more common usage through the blessings of fiction, where such creatures and individuals abound, especially in fantasy and science fiction. Durin’s Bane, the Doctor, the dragon in the Belgariad, The White Witch, Kal-El… If you could introduce the word in mainstream articles about these (or articles such as this one: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LastOfHisKind ), the word might grow in popularity quite quickly.

    Comment by Loki Aesir — 10 September, 2012 @ 09:05

  2. Well, I hadn’t really planned on being an activist on behalf of the word – people who stop by here know it know; I’ve surely done my part.

    As for TvTropes, I see they’re already using it in the Real Life section.

    Comment by Obdormio — 10 September, 2012 @ 15:02

  3. Sigh. With that kind of attitude, you will quickly find yourself the endling of your own cause.

    Comment by Loki Aesir — 10 September, 2012 @ 15:23

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