Lynx is the name of a genus of wildcats with tufted ears, short tails, and long limbs. Lynx are solitary, nocturnal animals and have become associated with secrets and secrecy; they were also famous for their keen eyesight, and the ancients believed that they could even see through solid objects; the term lynx-eyed refers to someone who has very good vision. It was also believed that the lynx urine hardened into a mythical gemstone called lyngurium (lynxstone). Interestingly enough, the lynx has also been associated with science and scientists because of its sharp eyesight and keen observational prowess, an image that was likely influenced by Italian scholar and polymath Giambattista della Porta’ s (1535?-1615) famous book, Magia Naturalis (1558) that had an illustration of a lynx with the words “…with lynx like eyes, examining those things which manifest themselves, so that having observed them, he may zealously use them.”
There are four species in the genus- the Eurasian lynx (found across Europe, Central Asia, and Siberia), the Canada lynx (North America, Canada, and Alaska), the Iberian lynx (Spain and Portugal, though it’s an endangered species), and the bobcat (North America). The origin of the name comes from Ancient Greek lúnx (lynx) , of uncertain origin though it’s been linked to PIE *lewk- (light; bright; to shine), in reference to the cat’s glowing eyes and ability to see in the dark.
Lynx is the name of a constellation in the Northern Hemisphere, named by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius, who named it after the animal because the stars that make up the constellation are very faint and one must have eyes as keen as a lynx to see them. Lynx also feature in several mythologies such as Greek, African, and Native American.
Meaning: the name of the animal which derives from a PIE root word “light; bright; to shine”
- Lyncus (Latinized Ancient Greek)
- Lynkos (Ancient Greek)
- Lygkos (Ancient Greek)
- Lynceus (Latinized Ancient Greek)
- Lynkeus (Ancient Greek)