In the short story Reginald on House Parties, by Saki (H.H. Munro), the character Reginald muses on the fact that hosts and hostesses usually know their houseguests only in the most superficial way. He has been invited to a shooting party. After missing his turn at shooting a partridge from about five yards away, he is teased mercilessly that night by his fellow guests.
The next morning, he rises at dawn and goes out hunting alone: “I hunted up the most conspicuous thing in the Bird line that I could find, and measured the distance, as nearly as it would let me, and shot away all I know.” He ends up killing the estate’s pet peacock.
“They said afterwards that it was a tame bird; that’s simply SILLY, because it was awful wild at the first few shots.” He notes that the hostess stared him down as he left. His comment is, “Some hostesses, of course will forgive anything, even unto Pavonicide (is there such a word?), as long as one is nice-looking and sufficiently unusual to counterbalance some of the others . . . .”
Pavonicide means the killing of peacocks. It is based on the Latin word pavo, a peacock. A more common term is pavonine, resembling a peacock. Obsolete adjectives include pavonaceous, pavonated, pavonian, and panovious.
So know your bird before you pull the trigger.
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