Z is For Zyzzyva

Zyzzyva – A genus of tropical American weevil often found in association with palms.

Pronounced ziz-e-va, it is a yellowish snouted beetle, no longer than an ant. It was first discovered in 1922 in Brazil, and named by an Irishman Thomas Lincoln Casey, Jr.  An entomologist at New York’s Museum of Natural History thought that, because there was not a Latin name or Brazilian name associated with this weevil, it was probably named Zyzzyva as a practical joke to place it in a prominent ending position in many guides and manuals, where the word itself is found in many English-language dictionaries.

Zyzzyva is also the name of a literary magazine–“The Last Word: West Coast Writers and Artists”–first published in 1985.  At a Writer’s Conference in San Diego in 2000, I found myself sitting next to the editor of the magazine, which would be great today, I could pitch some of my stories to him, but in those days I was finishing up my YA novel, Monkey’s Wedding. Not his cup of tea.




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