Words: camel, n.

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IS THE new Oxford Dictionary of Quotations right to credit Alex Issigonis with the phrase "a camel is a horse designed by a commitee"? One had assumed it current before he found fame with his idiosyncratic motor-car, the Mini.

The word camel has a global committee behind it. The Old English form, camell, comes via Latin and Greek from Hebrew (in which perhaps it meant to bear), but there is, via another strand of Teutonic languages, an unexplained link with the Greek and Latin for elephant, which led to the camel also being known as an olfend until the 13th century - overlooked by Johnson, who gives camel and dromedary two of his longest definitions and quotes Thomson: "even the camel feels, / Shot through his wither'd heart, the firy blast".