hirudine of, like or pertaining to leeches
hirundine of, like or pertaining to swallows
You’ll notice that these two words are just one letter (“n”) different from each other in form, but significantly different in meaning — swallows to leeches (I’m cringing at that image as I type). That’s a lot of change to put on one little letter.
I’m a student of French, so I noticed that hirundine (the swallow version) reflects the French word “hirondelle” which means “swallow” (the bird — I should have clarified that right away). That makes sense, as the ultimate etymology for the word comes from the Latin word for “swallow” …hirundo.
It’s not much of a stretch to assume (and you would be doing so correctly) that ‘hirundine’ reflects a similar Latin origin: Hirudinea, or “leech”.
This is an object lesson in being sure 1) you have the right word and 2) that you’re extra careful in checking or proofreading when you know there’s a pair of words separated by a single letter’s difference.
Here’s today’s object lesson: I’ll leave it as an exercise for your imagination as to what letter got lost in the typing when I received a recent press release from a newer social media site which was growing to include new features. They proudly advised us users that the “public” profiles would remain in place. 🙂