Vulpicide n. The killing of a fox other than by hunting with hounds; or one who does that. The italics are mine. A puzzling one indeed. This is the meaning of the term as given by both Webster and Oxford. Yet why should hunting with hounds be excluded from the definition? The implication would seem to be that there is a moral bonus, so to speak, in hunting with hounds; that this is an ethical way to despatch the wily Reynard, and that other methods are unethical. Yet what other methods are there? In what circumstances could the word vulpicide actually be used? "I say, old chap - passed a fox on the way across the meadow this morning - got him on the head with a four iron!" "You absolute rotter! You could have got out a few hounds and had them tear his throat out; but oh no, you just had to commit vulpicide!"
Each Tuesday, we’ll offer up a Superior Word for the edification of our Superior Readers, via the volumes of the inimitable Peter Bowler. You can purchase all or any of the four Superior Person’s Books of Words from the Godine website. Vulpicide appears in the Third.