Pollywog definitions

Why tadpoles are baby frogs

This website tends to focus on trivial topics. You won't find many hard hitting opinion pieces on topics that truly matter. I'd rather talk about clownfish, dinosaurs, or everyone's favorite plutoid Pluto than talk about serious subjects. That said, there is one thing that needs to be said about episode 284 of my favorite podcast the Judge John Hodgman Podcast: It is absolutely okay to refer to a tadpole as a baby frog.

Before we continue, let's first address the absolute affront of not mentioning once during the entire episode that a tadpole is also called a pollywog. A POLLYWOG! What a fantastic name!

With that out of the way let's dive into the slimy frogspawn of why tadpoles are in fact baby frogs. To do this we should start at the same place as the podcast; in the dictionary. John Hodgman rightly called in the help of lexicographer Emily Brewster. She mentioned that the Merriam-Webster dictionary did not use the term "baby" in its description of tadpoles. This is true. She also said that the kids' dictionary did use the term "baby". This is false, it also doesn't use the term "baby". It does mention the name pollywog, though. It also mentions that a tadpole is an, and I quote, "immature form of a toad or frog". The Cambridge Dictionary agrees as it refers to tadpoles as "a recently born creature".

This brings me to a point that the podcast missed, the dictionary's definition of the word "baby". The podcast falsely claims that the word "baby" only refers to humans. In fact the Merriam-Webster dictionary also mentions this definition for babies: "a very young animal". AHA! Other dictionaries agree with this definition and since we previously saw this definition inside of the definition of tadpoles we can conclude that tadpoles are totally baby frogs.

You don't have to take my word for it either. Since we heard from a lexicographer, we should also hear from the expert of all things frog related. In the classic Sesame Street song "Tadpole" Kermit the Frog starts by saying this: "Hi there. You know what's down there in this pond? Tadpoles. Tadpoles. Baby Frogs."


You can listen to the fine Judge John Hodgman podcast every week by visiting the Maximum Fun website. My favorite episode is episode 214 "The Santa Suit". If, however, you have not yet listened to this great podcast, you should start with the latest episode before jumping to older episodes as is official fake internet law.

Published on : 2016, November 1
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