names for mourning cloak

Pierre Zagatti zagatti at
Thu Apr 13 10:14:10 EDT 2000

I think the French name 'morio' comes from the dark color of the butterfly.
French mineralogists use the same word for black varieties of quartz. Now
words meaning _dark_ and _strange_ generally coevolve in the history of
languages :-(

As many, many insects, Nymphalis antiopa is still common in the southern
part of France, becoming rarer northward (it is protected in Paris area, but
still common in my garden :-)

Barbara Barnett wrote:

> I would like to find out why the name Mourning Cloak is used in American
> Englishas a common name for N. antiopa?  I know that in Britain it is
> called Camberwell Beauty.  It is names in several European languages
> which have basically the same meaning as "mourning" or "funeral"
> "cloak", "cape" or "coat":  (examples: German
> Trauermantel; Dutch, Rouwmantel; Danish Sorgekabe).  In French it is
> called Le Morio.  Does the French word have any connection to Latin
> "morio" which means roughly buffoon, monster, imbecile?
> I would not be surprised that the name Mourning Cloak was chosen
> because  of the pattern and color of the wings.  Could someone suggest a
> good reference on the etymology of this name?
> Also I would like to know more about the status of this species in
> Europe.  I read on a web site that N. antiopa is listed as extinct in
> Netherlands and Belgium, and is listed as endangered in Switzerland.
> Many thanks in advance,
> Clyde Kessler

INRA Unite de Phytopharmacie et Mediateurs Chimiques
78026 Versailles Cedex
Tel: (33) 1 30 83 31 18
e-mail zagatti at

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