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[[quoteright:304:[[Anime/MonsterRancher http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/monster-rancher-tiger.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:304:Do ''[[CanisMajor these]]'' look like "tigers" to you?]]

->''"Fur the color of dead grass conceals a hard, scaly exoskeleton protecting this flesh-eater with few known predators. Its head is concealed by a split upper and lower jaw, and it is from between these that it keeps careful watch on prey through well protected sunken eyeholes."''
-->-- '''Feral ''Croc''''' [[http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Feral_Croc_(Final_Fantasy_XII) bestiary entry]], ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII''

It doesn't look like a duck, walk like a duck, or quack like a duck, but everyone around you ''insists'' it's a duck.

Just as SpeculativeFiction authors like to CallARabbitASmeerp, they also like to invent wild new creatures, give them the names of familiar animals, and plunk them down into their settings to run amok. The differences between the smeerps and their real-world counterparts can range from mild -- such as "[[AllAnimalsAreDogs dogs]]" that have spiked backs and three tails in addition to all their normally canine traits -- to extreme, such as bipedal, poison-spitting, frilled reptiles with saddles being referred to as "[[HorseOfADifferentColor horses]]".

When used in non-visual media, the problem is that unless the author is very explicit right up front about the fact that the animal in question is ''quite different'' from what the word normally means, the reader may be hundreds of pages in before he [[TomatoSurprise runs across something that just doesn't make sense]], which can be jarring. It shatters the SuspensionOfDisbelief when you have to suddenly change your mental image of the hero's faithful dog to include scales and a forked tongue.

A common trope in {{RPG}}s, especially when naming monsters.

This trope is very much TruthInTelevision, as can be quickly seen by browsing through the RealLife section of this page. Explorers would name newly discovered animals after the ones they were familiar with due to a resemblance in how it looks, sounds, or acts. This is why, for example, you'd need to distinguish between African, American, and Eurasian buffalo—Portuguese explorers in the 1580s called African buffalo "big oxes" in their language; French traders in the 1630s independently applied their own cognate term to the large bovines of North America; and then in the ''early 18th century'' Europeans applied the term to the water buffalo of Asia (unlike the previous two times, ''that'' was probably a deliberate comparison to another "buffalo", namely the African one, rather than simply "big ox").

And for whatever reason, everyone thought that every animal would have an "alien" equivalent. [[SpaceIsAnOcean The closest equivalent to outer space back then was the ocean]]. Have you noticed how many sea creatures have names like "[[SpaceX Sea/Mer + Name of Land Animal]]", e.g. Sea Lion, Cow, Horse, Slug, and Cucumber? [=RPGs=] like to run with this too. Note that quite a few cases are due to translation errors (see DinosaursAreDragons for a specific example of this).

Note that in RealLife, this trope can involve the linguistic debate on prescriptivism vs. descriptivism—if an animal is commonly called something, that is by definition its common name; it's only "wrong" if it doesn't convey what animal is being referred to. Common parlance is not professional taxonomic literature, which has binomial nomenclature to prevent ambiguities.

The {{inver|tedTrope}}se of CallARabbitASmeerp. When ''already'' fictional creatures [[SadlyMythtaken bear little resemblance to their mythological counterparts]], it is, depending on the case in question, either OurMonstersAreDifferent or CallAPegasusAHippogriff. Occasionally might be related to TranslationConvention. See also HorseOfADifferentColor and SpaceX. Not to be confused with InNameOnly. Closely related to NonIndicativeName.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/{{Biomega}}'' features bizarre technorganic BigCreepyCrawlies referred to as horses. Then again, the people who ride them seem to have a very loose definition of the word, as this is also what they call the main character's motorcycle.
* Animals in (on) ''Manga/NagasareteAirantou'' may as well be animals in name only. Lampshaded heavily by Ikuto in the beginning, but he's since taken it in stride (especially those cotton balls they call "sheep"). Whenever a "real" animal appears it is given such "real" detail that even animals of the same species on Airantou find it horrifying.
* The [[HorseOfADifferentColor "horseclaws"]] from ''Manga/NausicaaOfTheValleyOfTheWind'' are large flightless birds used for transportation AfterTheEnd. In the manga, one of the older characters mentions hearing of a time when the word "horse" described a ''mammal''. Nausicaä looks shocked. It's even more blatant in the original Japanese, where they're simply called "horses".
* ''Anime/PomPoko'' the movie all about tanuki insists we are watching a film about the common raccoons westerners are familiar with troughout the entire dub, while still preserving the gratuitous scrotum jokes and imagery. Though, they refer to the scrotums as pouches if that counts.
* The Red Elk from ''Anime/PrincessMononoke'' does not resemble an actual elk or wapiti. It might actually pass for one, if it had antlers as opposed to bony ''horns'' which more quickly call a goat into mind.
* ''Manga/RaveMaster'':
** Plue is the source of endless confusion for the protagonist. He's white, has a horn-like nose, eats lollipops, and alters between walking on two legs and four, and has on one occasion been indecisive over his own ''gender''. So far people have accused him of being a dog, an insect, a cat (though the person who guessed this went on to guess a specific breed that was a dog anyway), a water demon, a snowman, or an alien. (WordOfGod cheerfully insists he's a dog, though.)
** Additionally, the group occasionally travel around in a cart pulled by a "horse"... which is purple, bipedal and reptilian in appearance, and constantly shakes its head back and forth rapidly. That horse also has a trunk and makes a weird engine-like sound. Admittedly, Griff is the only one to insist that the thing pulling his cart is a horse. It is lampshaded several times by the other characters.
* ''Manga/FairyTail'':
** Plue gets this treatment again when Lucy summons him. At least Natsu and Happy doubt her when she insists that she has summoned a dog spirit. They seem to give up on arguing with her almost immediately, though.
** On that note Happy himself, while indeed having cat-like head, is of a solid blue colour, walks on hind legs, speaks, can sprout wings and carry people around, has hatched from an egg... But everybody calls him a cat. In Edolas Arc we learn that the proper name for his species is Exceed, but everybody keeps calling them cats.
* ''LightNovel/RentalMagica'' had it {{played for laughs}} right in the first episode ([[AnachronicOrder TV order]]), on account of [[http://blog.seiha.org/images/rental1/rental1%20%284%29.jpg one beast]].
-->'''Itsuki:''' ''[panicking]'' You said it was a dog!\\
'''Nekoyashiki:''' ''[very calmly]'' [[http://blog.seiha.org/images/rental1/rental1%20%2815%29.jpg A mammal on four legs with sharp teeth that barks]]. If I don't call it a dog, what else should I call it?
* Though the aliens of ''Manga/SgtFrog'' do look somewhat amphibious, they are far closer to the standard LittleGreenMen than frogs. Could be a result of stylized art (look at the humans in the series) rather than them not looking like frogs.
* Despite being an educational program about prehistoric life, and otherwise very accurate in its depictions, ''Pikaia!'' has its eponymous main creature looking like some sort of cartoonish sea angel rather than an [[http://dinopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Pikaia actual Pikaia]].
** It could also be based on [[http://dinopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Amiskwia Amiskwia]], which is at least from the same time period. That would still be a rather embarassing mixup though.
* The plot of the ''Anime/DogDays'' manga features Cinque wanting to harvest some honey for his tea. It's only after the expedition sets off that he finds out that honey in Flonyard doesn't come from bees... it comes from [[BearsAreBadNews bears]].

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/MonstersInc'':
** Mikey has an old stuffed animal -- it's a cyclopean horned monster (like him) but with six legs. What does he call it? A "teddy bear". They likely have picked up their knowledge of "teddy bears" from the children they scared; small children tend to call any plush a "teddy bear", regardless of whether said plush looks anything like a bear. Even adults do it sometimes -- just check eBay.
** Also [[CheerfulChild Boo]] calls the Hulking monster Sully "Kitty!"
* The [[WhatCouldHaveBeen "lava whales"]] from Disney's ''Disney/AtlantisTheLostEmpire'' are actually large dog-like animals that swim in lava but look nothing like actual whales. Also, Atlantean wildlife in general.
* Contrary to popular belief, ''actual'' Aracuan birds look absolutely ''nothing'' like the one seen in ''Disney/TheThreeCaballeros''.
* Most of the prehistoric animals from the ''WesternAnimation/IceAge'' series films are all referred by the names of modern-day animals. For example, [[PantheraAwesome Diego the Saber-toothed Cat]] is still referred as [[ArtisticLicensePaleontology a tiger.]] On the other hand, Sabre-toothed Tiger ''is'' a common name for his species, and their scientific name (Smilodon) doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
* In ''WesternAnimation/DespicableMe'', Gru introduces the girls to his pet, Kyle; a small, toothy, yet menacing little beast. He uses this trope because he doesn't seem to know what Kyle ''is''.
-->'''Gru:''' He's my... ''[searches for a word]'' ...dog.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/{{Willow}}'', Queen Bavmorda's vaguely canine hunting beasts look more like giant furry/scaly warthogs but are consistently referred to as "dogs". Probably because "hunting pigs" sounded silly and they were using dressed-up Rottweilers anyway.
* The non-flying steeds ridden by Na'Vi in ''Film/{{Avatar}}'' are six-limbed blue nectar-eaters that breathe through opercula on their chests. While technically dubbed "direhorses" by humans, they get called "horses" for short a lot.
* ''Film/{{Ghostbusters|1984}}'': "OK... so... She's a dog." (Technically, a demon dog, but...)
* In ''Film/MontyPythonAndTheHolyGrail'', there's an animal that's called a "rabbit", and it ''looks'' just like a rabbit -- but [[KillerRabbit there the similarity ends]]...
* Despite taking place in a fictional, separate galaxy, the ''Franchise/StarWars'' films feature objects that are actually named after real-world animals, such as the Millenium Falcon.
** The novelization has some fun with this. After agreeing to teach Luke in the Jedi ways, Obi-Wan quotes the saying, "Even a duck must learn to swim." Luke immediately asks what a "duck" is. (Considering that Luke grew up on a desert planet, it [[FridgeBrilliance makes sense]] that he wouldn't have encountered ducks.)
* The "Velociraptors" in ''Franchise/JurassicPark'' were larger and had heads of a different shape when compared to actual velociraptors. That is because they were actually based on a related predator, the Deinonychus. This happened because when the novel was written, a scientist had proposed that Deinonychus was a species of Velociraptor (disregarding the fact that it was twice its size and lived 20 million years earlier in a different continent)--and the film went with that even though the scientific community wrote it off before filming took place. And, even taking Deinonychus into account, it'd look more like Velociraptor than the movie animals; in 20 years, the roughly inaccurate view was turned into what looks a fully different animal.
** The Dilophosaurus in said movie is also quite distinct from the animal we know; a child-sized cross of frilled lizard and spitting cobra doesn't resemble the bear-sized animal that once roamed Arizona.
** The only excuse they have is these are not "real" dinosaurs. The creatures in the park(s) are spliced animals as they have dinosaur DNA with other parts put in to fill the blanks, such as a species of frog that changes sex when there isn't enough breading partners. The Indominus Rex can't even be called a "dinosaur" because it's a freakish mix of several dinosaurs and modern animals to create the most fearsome (and deadliest) creature in the park.
* Other than being simply labeled "Bugs" as a {{Fantastic Slur}} towards the chitinous alien invaders and their various castes in ''Film/StarshipTroopers'', their official label is "Arachnid". This is confusing as it is never shown if they have any sort of relation to Earth's anthropods despite the superficial resemblance.
* Subverted with the aliens in ''Film/{{District 9}}''. People call them prawns, which sounds weird because they're more insectoid than crustacean, but it's actually in reference [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parktown_prawn to a type of South African cricket]] which they actually ''do'' look a fair bit like.
* In ''Film/TheBigLebowski'', the Nihilists invade the Dude's home and threaten him with a ferret, which he mistakenly calls a marmot.
* ''Film/BringingUpBaby'' combines this with a bizarrely specific form of MisplacedWildlife; Creator/KatharineHepburn has bought what she calls a leopard, but is actually a jaguar, from Brazil, where leopards don't live but jaguars do.
* The characters in ''Film/{{Evolution}}'' insist on calling the flying aliens "birds" even though they clearly resemble either winged Velociraptors or dragons.

* A JustifiedTrope in Literature/TheHost; the BodySnatcher invaders only understand the language of their current host, so they use the name of the closest Earth analogue for other alien species that they've conquered, despite the fact that BizarreAlienBiology abounds.
** The Dragons are gelatinous and float through their planet's thick, soupy atmosphere.
** The Dolphins have three sexes, each one having either three, five, or seven legs.
** The Bears have four arms with double-sided multi-fingered hands, and can see a wider spectrum of color than humans.
** The See Weeds probably have the most accurate name considering that they are sentient plants with a hundred thousand eyes each.
* Actually mentioned by name in Creator/MikeResnick's short story "Stalking the Unicorn with Gun and Camera", e.g. in the following line: "A word of warning about the smerp: with its long ears and cute fuzzy body, it resembles nothing more than an oversized rabbit -- but calling a smerp a rabbit doesn't make it one." This is probably a ShoutOut to James Blish's original "Call a Rabbit a Smeerp".
* Happens a time or three in ''The Telnarian Histories'' (by the same author as the ''{{Literature/Gor}}'' series). They're along the lines of "He had a dog. Well, not a dog as you know it, but it's the closest equivalent in your ecosystem, so we'll call it a dog. It had the usual seven flippers, but only three of them were orange..." (Note: We made up the flipper part. The descriptions in the books are much more serious.)
* Creator/TerryPratchett's first novel, ''Literature/TheCarpetPeople'', does this for just about everything but silverfish. Horses have color-changing multifaceted eyes, among other things.
* Creator/GeneWolfe's ''Literature/BookOfTheNewSun'', full stop. Wolfe's use of archaic but real terms is awe-inspiring. Of particular note are the "destriers" of Urth, which are carnivorous, fanged, and capable of charging at 90 miles an hour. The names of prehistoric animals crop up pretty often as well, but the notes in the back seem to indicate that these are not necessarily revived species (although the narrator seems to think they are) and might be whole new (but fairly similar) creatures.
* In Creator/GeneWolfe's ''Book of the Short Sun'' series, the "elephants" of Planet Blue apparently have two trunks.
* In the ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' series, most species are named after terrestrial animals, but except for a very few cases these refer to indigenous species of other worlds that aren't very similar to their namesakes. Lampshaded in the short story "A Beautiful Friendship".
** We see Sphinxian chipmunks, which are noted not to look much of anything like terrestrial chipmunks. (In fact, other than the Sphinx-standard six legs, [[{{Dissimile}} their lack of resemblance to chipmunks is the only description we actually get]].)
** Treecats are sort of like domestic cats, sort of like ocelots, arboreal (as the name implies), intelligent, telepathic, and six-legged. They're stated in text to have a feline-like head, a body like a weasel or ferret (60 centimeters long), and a prehensile tail that is carried rolled into a tube or flattened for gripping.
** A Hexapuma is like a big cat, only bigger and more dangerous. And six-legged.
** A Kodiak Maximus is like a Kodiak Bear, only once again bigger and more dangerous. Presumably four-legged, since it originates on Gryphon and not Sphinx.
* The "piggies" in ''Literature/SpeakerForTheDead'' are (to grossly simplify their BizarreAlienBiology) tree-climbing, scaly sentient beings with ''somewhat porcine snouts'', by which, of course, the settlers of their planet chose to identify them. Of course, most of the Lusitanian lifeforms are given Portuguese "rabbit" names. For instance, the indigenous herd animals are called "cabra", Portuguese for goat, while the grass is "capim".
* The 'horse' in ''Literature/SpiderCircus''. It's a lot like a horse, if horses were incredibly vicious, angry and ate people.
* From the ''Literature/EndersGame'' series are the Formics, more generally known as the Buggers due to their resemblance to giant ants.
* Neal Stephenson's ''Literature/{{Anathem}}'' uses this, in addition to its inversion CallARabbitASmeerp. Devices that are obviously cell phones and video cameras respectively are called "jeejahs" and "speelycaptors", but vegetables and animals of the alien planet on which the novel is set are named for their closest Earth equivalent and Earth Anglo units (feet, miles) are used.
* In the novelisation of ''Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock'' a [[CatGirl felinoid crewmember]] is annoyed to be described as a "cat".
-->"I saw a cat once. It was digging through a garbage heap in a back alley on Amenhotep IX. I disliked it. Please explain the similarities between it and me."\\
"All right... both of you were in the back alley, weren't you?"
* One of S.L. Viehl's ''Literature/{{Stardoc}}'' books featured small, fuzzy, [[TakeOurWordForIt very alien-looking]], ''herbivorous'' animals ... which were immediately identified as "kitties!" by the heroine's little daughter.
* The title creature in Creator/TheodoreSturgeon's short story "The Hurkle is a Happy Beast" has got six legs, the middle pair of which is essentially a pair of prongs it can rock back and forth on, and it turns invisible when anxious, among other things. The author happily calls it a "kitten" anyway.
* Terry Jones's novelization of Douglas Adams's ''VideoGame/StarshipTitanic'' opens with "'Where is Leovinus?', exclaimed the Gat of Blerontis, chief surveyor of the Northeast Gas District. 'No, I don't want another bloody fish-paste sandwich!'" The following paragraph explains that the terms "fish", "sandwich", "bloody", and "Northeast Gas District" are inexact approximations of alien terminology, before deciding to start over.
* ''Literature/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy''
** The "Gin and Tonics". It's stated that every race has a drink with a name phonetically identical to "Gin and Tonics", but wildly different (such as ''gynnan tonix''). It's a reference to something that has got anthropologists and structural linguists very excited in the real world: that just about ''every'' culture that worked out how to distill drinkable ethyl alcohol on a widespread basis went on to name the resulting spirit "water of life"--whiskey, aquavit, vodka, ouzo, eau de vie, etc. (look them up!) Not so mysterious, since alcohol kills germs and one of its main benefits in early cultures was that it could be imbibed without the health risks of drinking unpurified water.
** Also in ''Hitchhikers'', every Earth animal seems to have a "mega-" equivalent on Arcturus, including the Arcturan Megadonkey and the Arcturan Megacamel. There's even Arcturan Mega-Gin, an essential ingredient of the Pan-Galactic GargleBlaster, to go with all the Arcturan Mega-Critters. In accordance with this trope, it's worth noting that the Megadonkey, for instance, has six legs.
* The venomous, bipedal, reptilian "horses" mentioned in the trope description are from Creator/SheriSTepper's novel ''Grass''. The novel specifically states they are nothing like Earth horses (nor are the creatures they hunt remotely like foxes), but for twisted plot-related reasons the (human) residents of Grass ride the "horses" to go "hunting" anyway.
* In Creator/CordwainerSmith's ''Instrumentality'' series, the inhabitants of Norstrailia have creatures which are ''bigger than houses'', completely immobile, and produce an immortality drug that makes the inhabitants filthy rich. The creatures are called "sheep". Well, they were brought to the planet as regular old sheep, then they [[CameBackWrong mutated...]]
* Creator/StephenKing does this a lot.
** Comes up in a serious way in ''Literature/FromABuick8''. Sandy yells at Ned that the thing that came out of the Buick's trunk was '''not''' a bat, that's just the closest analogue anyone could give for the horrid thing.
** At the climax of ''Literature/{{IT}}'', when the children behold [[EldritchAbomination Its true form]], the best their frail human minds can come up with is "GiantSpider". But the benevolent cosmological entity that helps Stuttering Bill really is a giant turtle.
** There's also the "chuck" from "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut". Okay, it ''was'' woodchuck-sized and furry. It also tried to eat a car.
* A variant occurs in David Weber's ''Literature/{{Safehold}}'' books. The humans who have settled on the planet Safehold have named many local animals after mythical beasts. Examples include the kraken (described as a cross between a squid and a shark, fitting the latter's place in Safeholdian ecology), the [[OurDragonsAreDifferent dragon]] (a massive, six-legged animal that comes in both carnivorous and herbivorous varieties), and the wyvern (''four''-winged flyers that are the Safeholdian analogue of birds). There are also more classic examples--there are Safeholdian grasshoppers, narwhales, and sea cows. The grasshopper is a great example of this trope--the Safeholdian grasshopper can grow up to nine inches long and is carnivorous.
** It of course gets somewhat strange when people who have no idea what an original Terran pine tree is call trees "near-pines" or have spiderrats without ever having seen a spider or a rat.
* ''Literature/HellsGate'': Arcana has "{{Unicorn}}s", which resemble the usual image of unicorns only in that they have a single horn and are roughly horse-sized and shaped. They are black, with disproportionately long legs, powerful hindquarters, and ears like a bobcat -- and possess a mouthful of long tusks and sharp, carnivorous teeth.
* There are carnivorous unicorns (more often called "One-Horns", but guess what unicorn means) in the ''Elvenbane'' series as well, along with mammalian shape shifting superintendent "dragons".
* Asimov's novel ''Literature/{{Nightfall}}'' is preceded by a foreword explaining that the characters, creatures, etc., are technically alien, but would be described in Earth terms to avoid CallARabbitASmeerp.
* Franchise/CthulhuMythos:
** One of Shub-Niggurath's titles is "The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young". [[EldritchAbomination You'd be hard pressed to find anything less like a goat]]. [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8f/Shub-Niggurath.jpg It looks like this]]. Notice the people at the bottom of the image. Most depictions of her have some hoof-like protrusions in some of her tentacles. Considering that most who see her in the flesh don't survive, it's possible that she was named after the tracks she leaves when summoned. It is also possible that the "goat" appellation was a reference to its promiscuity -- there are other places and situations where a libidinous individual or critter is called a goat, like a dirty old man being called a "randy old goat".
** Also, on a weirder note, the [[StarfishAliens Mi-Go]] are said to be called that because they were originally mistaken for the Yeti, which also goes by the name the Mi-Go. [[SarcasmMode Because, of course, it's so easy to mistake a tentacle-headed, winged lobster-thing for a giant snow gorilla.]]
** Literature/TheHoundsOfTindalos are named mainly for their persistence in tracking down anyone whose "scent" they have picked up. Otherwise they're vaguely-described abominations that apparently hunt their victims through ''time'', can materialize from any nearby corner they find, and presumably don't bear much if any family resemblance to canines as we know them at all.
** In Creator/RobertEHoward's ''The Valley of the Worm'' (apparently same continuity as Conan The Barbarian, and as such related to the Mythos), the titular creature is an EldritchAbomination which the narrator calls a Worm because it looks "somewhat more like a worm than it did an octopus, a serpent or a dinosaur".
* In Creator/LarryNiven's ''Flight of the Horse'', the protagonist Svetz is from a time where most animals are extinct, and he uses a TimeMachine to obtain animals for the global zoo. Unknown to him, however, his "time machine" drifts across parallel universes as it travels, and he consistently winds up bringing back mythological creatures. As even "real" (i.e., nonmagical) animals are only known from sources like poorly illustrated children's books, no-one thinks it unusual that the "horse" he brings back is actually a unicorn (but they persist in calling it a horse, cutting off the horn to make it look more like the one in the book), or that the "gila monster" is actually a ''fire-breathing dragon''. He does manage to acquire a regular whale... except that it's Moby-Dick in the flesh -- complete with a dead Captain Ahab still in its jaws -- and he had to avoid the Leviathan to capture it.
* Botanical example: Khepri artists from ''Literature/PerdidoStreetStation'' chew a variety of berries to add color to the paste they sculpt. Colorberry varieties include blueberries and blackberries, but also redberries, yellowberries, etc. As khepri "blueberries" are described as tasting tart, not sweet, it's unlikely that they're the same thing as blueberries on Earth. (Either that or they aren't ripe. Or are "European blueberries", better known as bilberries.)
* One smaller variety of predator from Henders Island is designated a "rat" by the researchers of ''Literature/{{Fragment}}'', despite being as un-ratlike as a carbon-based life form is likely to get.
* Hinted at in ''The Gnome's Engine'', when the Duchess asks Jarl Skogsra about the Troll King's hounds. Seeing that she's looking at some huge ugly mastiffs, the Jarl corrects her: those are only the King's ''dogs'', not his hounds. She would know the difference if she saw the latter.
* Joy Chant's ''Vandarei'' books describe a nomadic people, the Khentorei. They ride large, powerful unicorns whom they call horses. ("Khentor" is possibly derived from "centaur" but that's neither here nor there.)
* The ''Literature/{{Dragaera}}'' novels use elements of this trope, as {{Word of God}} holds that the "orcas" of Dragaera could use an Earth Orca (Whale) for a chew toy. The Dragaeran word for "hawk" is a special case, as it refers to diurnal birds of prey of any sort, and hence applies both to genuine hawks ''and'' to non-biologically-speaking-hawk birds of prey (i.e. Shrikes, Falcons, Ravens, Keas...)
* Yulia Latynina's ''Inhuman'' features a character musing:
-->''The fact that "Eden" got into the Protection Services' hands was known to at least two dozen people. And as the old phrase goes, "What's known to two men is known to a pig." The colonel didn't understand how a "pig", a self-replicating Loellian strain of algae used for food for the poor sections of the empire, could know know anything at all, though, perhaps the word "pig" meant something different in the past. From this he figured that over the centuries pigs have changed quite a bit, while people didn't.''
* In Creator/ArthurCClarke's story "The Wall of Darkness", Shervane and his father's traveling party includes "certain animals it is convenient to call horses".
* In Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin's short story "Paradises Lost", the colonists of a new planet (who are just off the GenerationShip where they've lived for several generations) dub a certain kind of insect a "dog". They know it's not what the word originally referred to, but no-one's ever seen a dog, so no-one cares.
* In the Literature/LiadenUniverse, Borrill, Zhena Trelu's "dog" on Vandar, doesn't look anything like a "dog" as Val Con or Miri know them, but is called a dog by the narrative (and Val Con theorizes that it fills the same ecological/cultural niche on that world).
* Toto, the [[SmallAnnoyingCreature alien]] [[RidiculouslyCuteCritter pet]] in Helen Weinbaum's short story "Honeycombed Satellite", is a three-legged creature with a roughly tetrahedral body, a simian face, rabbit-like ears, and a habit of parroting any sound that he hears. He's also [[BizarreAlienBiology photosynthetic]]. The main characters nonetheless insist that he's a puppy.
* The Creator/DianaWynneJones short story "Nad And Dan Adn Quaffy" features an author who includes in every book some version of coffee. The names get steadily more exotic as the story progresses.
* ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive'':
** "Axehounds", while apparently dog-like in behavior, anatomically most closely resemble giant arthropods. A man from another planet lampshades this, noting that while the natives are well aware of what an axe is, they have no real hounds, making it in-universe OrphanedEtymology.
** A variant: Due to the [[HostileWeather highstorms]], the vast majority of Roshar plant and animal life resembles an underwater biome, and there are no birds. Shinovar is the only exception, and has exported some birds to the rest of the continent. Since the majority are chickens, most people on Roshar refer to all forms of birds as chickens.
* Creator/GregEgan's ''Literature/{{Orthogonal}}'' trilogy takes place in a universe with entirely different laws of physics from our own, and thus predictably BizarreAlienBiology. It still uses common words like "plant" and "vole" to describe things that are roughly analogous. [[note]]Never mind that plants gain energy by emitting light rather than absorbing it, and voles are just a smaller and less evolved species of {{Shapeshifting}} [[StarfishAliens Starfish Alien]] than the protagonists.[[/note]]
* Used to an extent in ''Literature/JohnCarterOfMars''; Carter tends to describe the Martian fauna by comparing it to the closest Earth equivalent, but most of these creatures ''do'' have their own names and are described up-front as being alien-looking. Interestingly, the novels use the terms "man" and "woman" to refer both to members of the various humanoid Martian subspecies as well as the decidedly ''non''-humanoid Green Martians.
* ''Literature/TunnelInTheSky'' features high school students stranded on an alien world during a survival test. Most of the native animals and plants are given Terrestrial names for simple identification. For a time, recovering from a near-delirious daze, Rod convinces himself that they never left earth and that the lion-like creatures ''were'' lions. The primary exceptions would be the noisy, nocturnal "grand opera" and the goofy, harmless "dopy joes".
* In ''Literature/SsaliaAndTheDragonsOfAvienot'', the LizardFolk-type ssyrean are sometimes referred to as "snakes" (possibly to "translate" a term from the original (hypothetical) fictional language into a more familiar one). They do have similarities, but being humanoids (with limbs), they aren't exactly an equivalent to the serpents found on Earth.
* One early scene in Creator/ChinaMieville's ''{{Literature/Embassytown}}'' all but outright states that human colonists habitually do this to the native animals of colonized worlds, and that the alien creature refereed to as a rabbit on one world may bear as little resemblance to the alien creature refereed to as a rabbit on another as it does to an actual rabbit.
-->'''Scile:''' That's not what we call a dog where I come from.
* ''Literature/TheRifter'': "Weasels", egg-laying mammals of Basawar. Basawar and our world (it is possible to cross from one to the other by a magical gate) may have been connected at some times in the past; they share some flora and fauna, but not all -- there are dogs (actual dogs) but no cats in Basawar for example.
* In Creator/JoeHaldeman's ''Literature/TheForeverWar'', Mandela refers to a marine animal that the residents "[[SarcasmMode in a fit of originality]], named the 'shark'."
-->He was twelve meters of flexible muscle with a razor sharp tail at one end and a collection of arm-length fangs at the other. His eyes, big yellow globes, were set on stalks more than a meter out from his head.
* The narrator for the Creator/IainBanks novella ''The State of the Art'' speaks in Marain, but for our benefit her drone provides the English translation published. She quotes one character as saying "...I have an aircraft, a launch, the choice of mount from a large stable of ''aphores*'', even the use of what would be called a spaceship...". The translator adds a footnote saying [[subscript:*I thought the phonetic equivalent was better than something strained like "horsoid" -- The Drone]]
* Very common in the novels of Creator/DaveDuncan:
** "Eagles" and "bats" from ''Shadow'' seem to have little in common with their Earth namesakes. For one, bats contain a narcotic drug and eagles have a prominent fleshy headcomb, [[spoiler:which they use to communicate]].
** "Dragons", "llamas", "rabbits", "alpacas" from ''The Great Game'' trilogy are just the names Edward came up with to describe them to Earth inhabitants, somewhere between first and second novels. Locals use those names from the start because of TranslationConvention.
* ''Those Who Survive'' by Creator/KirBulychev (from ''Literature/DoctorPavlysh'' series) starts with teenagers gathering mushrooms in the forest and being attacked by wolves. But when villagers rush to their rescue, wolves cover their heads with tails and roll away. Then the rescued quickly gather the mushrooms before they run away or bury themselves. Turns out, the villagers are survivors from a crashed starship living in HungryJungle. When Earth-born humans encounter a new animal or plant, they pick some trait and name their find after an Earth organism with the same trait. "Wolves" are lizards that hunt in packs; "bears" are bigger lizards prone to parasitic plant infection that makes them green and fuzzy; "goats" are bleating herbivores (with 6 eyes and trunks); "mushrooms" are an early stage of the life cycle of a mobile carnivorous plant (or a sessile land animal) and so on. Children born in the colony just invent their own words. In the second book adults end up naming a glue-spitting arthropod a "fastidious" (long story), because "crab" and "spider" are already taken.
* In Creator/CJCherryh's ''Literature/{{Foreigner}}'' series this is (unsuccessfully) [[DefiedTrope defied]] by one of the first human biologists to land on the world of the alien ''atevi''. The biologist argues that though there are things on the atevi's planet that look and act a lot like grass/trees/etc from the old Earth of the humans, ''calling'' them grass/trees/etc could cause humans to assume that they're exactly like the Earth lifeforms when there might be important, yet-to-be-discovered differences. The biologist is ignored and the human colonists wind up calling them grass/trees/etc.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* It happens from time to time on ''Franchise/StarTrek''.
** Calling Targs (spikey warthog-looking things) and Sehlats "cats" (or "kitties") comes to mind. The Sehlat is also called the Vulcan equivalent of a teddy bear, despite not appearing all that similar to a terrestrial teddy bear. It's alive, for one thing. As Spock was quick to point out (when [=McCoy=] seemed amused that he owned a "teddy bear" as a child) it also has six-inch fangs. According to [[WesternAnimation/StarTrekTheAnimatedSeries the animated series]] and ''[[Series/StarTrekEnterprise Enterprise]]'', Sehlats resemble a cross between a polar bear and a smilodon, and they are quite large. One assumes their domesticated relatives come in a similar range of sizes and temperaments to terrestrial dogs.
** In ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'', Dr. Phlox mentions the "Denobulan lemur". He goes on to clarify that "most have only one head".
** In ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'', Odo finds himself having to corral a creature called a Gunji jackdaw. In real life, jackdaws are little smallish perching birds. This one was played by an emu.
** The "Cardassian vole," which looks like an ugly rubber rat you'd get from a Halloween store, but has the Cardassian spoon thing on its forehead.
* In ''Series/StargateSG1'', the Goa'uld {{Puppeteer Parasite}}s are frequently called "worms" or "snakes", though those are derogatory terms not meant to be descriptive. For starter they are vertebrates, therefore they aren't worms. They also have fins, and when not engaging in parasitism their natural habitats are bodies of water -- so they are closer to eel-like fish (though with three eyes distributed around the head).

[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* In the ''Literature/BookOfRevelation'' (also called the ''Apocalypse of John''), there are creatures called "locusts" which have human faces, lion's teeth, breastplates of iron, giant wings whose flapping sounds like an army of horse's hooves, and stingers which cause victims to experience several months of solid pain. They're also explicitly described as doing absolutely no harm to plants which is the opposite of what actual locusts do. [[MindScrew That's one of the book's quirks.]]
** What are referred to as rabbits throughout The Bible are most likely hyraxes, small creatures native to Africa closely related to elephants. European translators of the time had never heard of a hyrax, so they substituted a more familiar animal.
*** In modern Hebrew, the word for hyrax (shafan) is used for rabbit much more often than in the original meaning.
* Many Greek translators turned Leviathan and Behemoth into crocodile and hippopotamus. See the descriptions in ''Job'' as the "Crocodile" starts breathing fire and the "Hippopotamus" has a body Job cannot even comprehend beyond its tree breaking tail.
** Leviathan is the current Hebrew word for whale. And Russian still uses Behemoth as a word for hippopotamus.
** Actually, fire-breathing crocodiles are a very common motiff in both heraldy and mythology. As for the behemoth, it is vague enough to be interpreted as just about anything, though the "tail" is pretty obviously an euphemism for "penis", which combined with the apparent external testicles narrows it down to some sort of mammal.
* Although the concept of "pareve" in Judaism actually means "neutral, doesn't count as meat or dairy for kashrut purposes", many popular works will simply say that for purposes of dietary law, fish (if kosher) are a ''vegetable''. Judaism also classes all water-animals—including ''crocodiles and turtles''—as fish, which may be where Christianity gets some of its odder classifications RE: Lenten fasts. (It's usually [[MisBlamed attributed to Aristotle]], but no, Aristotle [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle#Empirical_research_program not only knew]] those weren't fish, he also knew ''whales'' weren't fish.)

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'':
** This goes full circle from the real-life example below, by presenting "sea lions" that are -- [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin aquatic lions with mermaid tails]].
** A similar treatment was given to Seawolves (an old term for pirates), spider-monkeys (they really look disturbing), and wolf spiders (who have wolf heads). However, since these are all cases of [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin exactly what it says on the tin]], it does raise the question of if we should count examples that make sense.
** Owlbears are, canonically, [[MixAndMatchCritter owl/bear hybrids]], but many fans have noted that there is no reason for nature or magic to combine these two species. Some years back, a popular fan site sponsored an art contest to redesign the owlbear, under the thesis that it wasn't actually a hybrid, but just some [[OurMonstersAreWeird strange monster that random peasants called "owlbear" because it was the only thing they could think of that made any vague kind of sense]]. Of course, given [[Literature/DyingEarth where Gygax got a lot of his ideas]]... Some wizards see an owl and a bear and think "so what", but [[EvilSorcerer others]] think [[ScienceRelatedMemeticDisorder why]] ''[[ScienceRelatedMemeticDisorder not]]'' [[ForScience combine them]]?
* The ''TabletopGame/{{Talislanta}}'' game flirts with this trope, featuring "equs" ([[CanisLatinicus pseudo-Latin]] for "horse") as the most common riding beasts. Equs in Talislanta are reptile/mammal hybrids with claws, scales, manes... and (for the darkmane breed) a propensity toward foul language. Yep, the "horses" [[SapientSteed talk]].
* TabletopGame/RocketAge has Terrolinian Wolves, mobile carnivorous ferns, which really only fit their names in terms of behaviour. Several other species also qualify.
* TabletopGame/{{Numenera}}: After one billion years in the future, all life forms on Earth look nothing like what they look like now. What people would call a tiger or an elk would be very different from what we would call them.

* ''Toys/{{Bionicle}}'' often used this, mostly in its early years:
** Tarakava are referred to as water-dwelling lizards, when they have nothing aquatic about them ([[CoversAlwaysLie their box cover even shows them in a desert environment]]), what more, their immense punching arms, freaky and blocky heads, stick-like mid-sections, not to mention ''having tank threads for feet'' don't quite make them look like lizards either. The Tarakava Nui, AKA "King of Lizards'', took this further, and ended up looking like [[http://images.wikia.com/bionicle/images/9/9a/Tarakava_Nui.jpg mechanized, boxing totem poles]].
** The Hapaka is said to be a dog, whereas the model looks like a miniature elephant, with a trunk and tusks and all.
** Kavinika is a type of wolf, but has ''no'' characteristics worthy of such a designation. [[http://images.wikia.com/bionicle/images/9/99/Kavinika2.jpg It looks like a bird with no wings!]]
** [[HorseOfADifferentColor Rock steeds are actually dinosaurs]], [[BewareMyStingerTail with stinger tails.]]
** Muaka is a tiger that has a dog-like head, also has a caterpillar track instead of back legs, and can extend its neck. Its only tiger-like aspect is that it has some yellow on its black body. The Kane-Ra bull, which is the same model but with a few minor aesthetic differences, at least has horns to make it resemble the animal it's meant to be.
** Kuma-Nui. Basically a gigantic Muaka, but with two tank threads instead of one, a built like that of a gorilla, and an enormously long tail. It's a rat.
** [[GiantSpider The Fenrakk spider]], at least the "main" model (not the alternative variant sold with the playsets), has no actual spider-like traits, besides having pointy legs. It looks rather like a quadrupedal dragon.
** Sea squids, the species used as AbnormalAmmo by the Barraki, are really leeches, even in their feeding habits, that look nothing like any kind of squid. They don't even have tentacles.
** Shadow leeches, on the other hand, are more difficult to describe... they look like [[http://biosector01.com/wiki/images/6/65/Comic_Shadow_Leech.PNG cheesy video game enemies]]... but at least behave like leeches, and according to the story, have long tails that unfold, unlike in the sets.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' plays with this trope. The Survivors avert NotUsingTheZedWord hard, and call the zombies zombies. They give names like Witch, Hunter, and Smoker to various unique horrors ("special infected") which inhabit their world. Each special zombie has common features and distinct behaviors. They're also high priority targets and major threats. Survivors and players both use the common nicknames of the zombies to quickly identify them. Where this trope comes in is with the very prosaic names. A zombie which spits a glob of flesh-melting acid a hundred feet, allowing it to fill a room with deadly slime? Just call it "Spitter."
* ''VideoGame/MonsterRancher'' has a couple.
** Pictured above (from the AnimatedAdaptation): the Tiger isn't a tiger. It's a wolf. And even then, it's not even a normal wolf -- it has blue fur, a fluffy mane, and horns. Cue much confusion for the players. For the record, the name is a translation error. The original name ''sounded'' a great deal like "tiger" and so it stuck. If translated right, the name (Taiga) would even reference his [[AnIcePerson ice abilities]].
** Speaking of Japanese names, Hare the rabbit monster is called Ham in Japanese (like a hamster, even though it clearly is not)
** Baku also doesn't have a strong resemblance to the tapir it's named after (or even the {{Youkai}} the tapir is named after in Japanese), looking more like a giant plush dog.
* ''VideoGame/StarcraftII'' gives us Zerg "Roaches", 10 foot long acid spitting organic tank beasts, and "Vipers", gigantic dragonfly-esque flying monsters whose tongues can snare ''enemy tanks'' as easily as frogs catch flies.
* The Frog and Rat creatures from obscure action-adventure game ''VideoGame/SphinxAndTheCursedMummy'' resemble neither frogs nor rats. The Frog has scales and a tail, can stand on its hind legs, and has a bright red crest (though it still hops like a frog), and the Rat is covered in razor-sharp spines. It also has a weird, dachshund-like body.
* Due to CulturalTranslation, Kapp'n the cabbie/bus driver/boat rower from ''VideoGame/AnimalCrossing'' is called a snapping turtle, and [[InconsistentDub occasionally]], a parrot. He's actually a {{Kappa}}, as is made obvious by his name. Tom Nook from the same game also suffers from a {{tanuki}}-to-raccoon species change.
* The rats in ''VideoGame/PlaneShift'' have one eye.
* ''{{VideoGame/Warcraft}}''
** Giraffes in the games have antelope-style horns, orcas have small bony horns too, and raptors have a small horn on their nose (the kind that players can use as mounts has a large horn).
** Warcraft raptors also have feathers, which is accurate, [[ScienceMarchesOn though it wasn't known to be so when the models were designed in the early 2000s.]]
** Although they have now stated in several places that raptors actually pick feathers from other animals and use them for decoration, which once again brings them squarely into the realm of fiction.
** Also several of ''Warcraft'''s [[OurMonstersAreDifferent mythical creatures are]] ''[[OurMonstersAreDifferent very]]'' [[OurMonstersAreDifferent different]]. Hippogryphs are half-raven, half-elk rather than the usual half-eagle, half-horse, and Wyverns are a cross between a bat, a lion, and a scorpion, closer to the classic description of [[CallAPegasusAHippogriff the Manticore than the expected two-legged dragon]].
** Basilisks are six-legged lizards that live on land. ''Crocolisks'' are six-legged lizards that live in and around water.
** Every last large cat species in the game, from lions to tigers to panthers, also have large saber teeth (with the exception of the tigers on Pandaria and the Salhet's lions).
** Heck, very nearly every animal of ''every'' type in the series has horns, tusks, saber teeth, or some combination of the above. In particular, [[MorphicResonance no matter their form]], Tauren druids are [[JustForPun always horny.]]
** The so-called "[[http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20060601214908/wowwiki/images/a/ab/Spore_Bat_Art.jpg Spore Bats]]" bear practically no resemblance to bats. Or to [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9Vo_1g6bW4 bats]] in ''{{VideoGame/Spore}}'', for [[IncrediblyLamePun that matter]].
* ''Franchise/MassEffect''
** In one sidequest of ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'', you have to find a data module stolen by creatures that act like monkeys, sound kinda like monkeys, and are called monkeys... but sure as hell don't look like monkeys. And then there are the [[http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Space_Cow Space Cows]]. One is even [[http://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Shifty_Looking_Cow shifty-looking]]... and will rob you when you're not looking.
** Note that the monkey-like species is called "pyjak" in the second game. They are very common on the planet Tuchanka, homeworld of the Krogan. However, Wrex will never actually correct you in the first game when you refer to them as monkeys. While they are common, they aren't native. Some traders left a bunch of them at port, and even the [[DeathWorld voracious Tuchanka ecosystem]] hasn't managed to stamp them out.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'':
** The "[[http://ffxi.allakhazam.com/db/bestiary.html?fmob=938 Raptors]]" in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXI'' are [[DinosaursAreDragons small, flightless, stumpy-winged dragons]], no matter how much Square wants to identify them as [[http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/saurischia/maniraptora.html Maniraptors]]. (The fact that they breath fire and lightning makes it even worse.) The rabbits and hares in the game have a lack of front paws, although a subspecies of them are called [[CallARabbitASmeerp Rarabs]].
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' is also guilty. Real wolves and hyenas have a distinct lack of horns and tusks.
*** And alligators do not have a three-part jaw. Or fur. Or exoskeletons, though that bit [[AllThereInTheManual isn't obvious unless you actually read the bestiary entry]]. Those bestiary entries also seem to think that carnivorous horses with tentacles are perfectly normal. Or chibi-style rabbits with feathery ears (some of them even have four ears) and a fluffy ball-like tail which is about the size of their body. While the Panthers do appear like big cats with dark fur, they're Coeurl-class enemies and so have a couple of tentacles growing out of their backs.
** This has been going on since the first ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyI'' game; the NES version referred to underwater scorpions as "Lobsters".
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' has Fort Condor, a mountin/fortress with what looks like a giant bronze bird statue on top. But go inside and talk to it reveals that even the main characters already know that yes, that is a real bird and no, it doesn't look out of place despite the fact that it's the size of the power reactor on top. What's it called? Well, a Condor, which is why the fort is called a Condor. It doesn't even move for the majority of the game, guarding its nest... a reactor. It layed one egg that's probably half as tall as the reactor and sits neatly in what looks like one of the reactors big chimneys to keep it warm. After completing the sidequest, the party gets to watch the egg hatch, and it does, in the process of creating the totally natural reaction of encasing the entire reactor in an energy field, leaving the parent trapped, then blowing up, killing the parent you were guarding the whole sidequest and after the baby "Condor" (still large enough to squash a human by stepping on it) flies away is a materia you can use to summon the mythical phoenix, further proof it isn't any old Condor.
** What ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' calls an "antlion" is a monstrous brown creature larger than a man which resembles no Earth animal and looks nothing like a real antlion except for its oversized tusks.
** ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'' has ''Ragtime Mouse''- which certainly doesn't look like any mouse we know, ''and there are mice people in the game''. Also, the music playing during the encounter certainly isn't ragtime.[[note]]It's actually a mistranslation of Ragtime ''Mouth'' - which made more sense given the giant mouth[[/note]]
* In the ''VideoGame/TalesSeries'', if it's a monster and it's named after a real animal, don't expect it to look much like said animal. The most common example of this are the wolves, who aside from their canine body shape generally look more like reptiles then anything else.
** In ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'', [[IdiotHero Lloyd]] insists that Noishe is a dog, despite the presence of ''real dogs'' that look nothing like him. The rest of the world either lampshades this or just plays along. This is, however, justified: Lloyd reveals in Heimdall that he calls Noishe a dog because he knows that he's not a wolf, so he just assumed he was a dog. We later find out that Noishe is something called a protozoan... but he doesn't look anything like our ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protozoa protozoans]]'' either. Noishe is called protozoan because of its legend. It is the "first animal". If you know Scottish mythology Noishe '''is''' a (type of mythological) dog. His name is pronounced nearly identical to "Cu Sith" (Pronounced Cu Shee), and he matches the physical description of one.
*** They also have a large, furry, bipedal and somewhat troll-like monster that could legitimately have been called a Bigfoot, a Troll, or possibly a Bugbear. It's simply called a Bear. The PaletteSwap of it, encountered later in the game, is an Egg Bear, compounding the nonsense.
** The sequel: ''Dawn of the New World'' actually justifies this by introducing a large canine monster that bears a strong resemblance to Noishe... then it introduces the Griffin as a monster with only two legs and a wolf-like head.
** Likewise, the "Ligers" in ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'' are massive green-and-purple canines that shoot lightning and reproduce by laying eggs. They are also hinted to be matriarchal in nature.
* The "rats" in ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger''[='s=] 2300 AD bear only vague resemblances to their real-life counterparts. Since most creatures in the future are mutants, though, this might be [[JustifiedTrope justified]].
* ''VideoGame/HalfLife''
** Antlions are InsectoidAliens that don't resemble the larval or adult forms of RealLife antlions, even though the antlion Hive Guardian is referred to by the vortigaunts as the "myrmidont," which is derived from antlions' scientific name (Myrmeleontidae).
** Meanwhile the series's iconic [[PersonalSpaceInvader headcrabs]] look nothing like actual crabs; they're more like giant mites but with [[FourLeggedInsect four spider legs.]] [[AlienLunch They don't taste like crab, either]].
** Also featured is Dog, a huge, ''gorilla''-like robot... Who does act like a dog would, if it were in actuality a huge, gorilla-like robot. It's implied that it used to look more dog-like until Alyx added on to it.
** There's also Xen's barnacles: saggy bags of flesh with a tentacle... relatively appropriate appellation though.
** The Bullsquids at least have a passing resemblance to squids, [[{{Dissimile}} if squids were highly-aggressive bi-pedal land-bound sewer-dwelling acid-spitting beasts]]. [[WhatCouldHaveBeen They were initially called "Bullchickens" during development]], which makes even less sense.
* ''VideoGame/ZenoClash'' contains "wrathbirds" and "squirrels". The squirrels are very similar to real squirrels, but the wrathbirds that look nothing like a bird, and share the elongated ears and large rear paws of a rabbit.
* ''{{Franchise/Halo}}'':
** One race of aliens called the Kig-yar are also referred to as "Jackals" by humans, because everyone knows jackals are not small dog-like canids but humanoid... bird... things. [[http://halo.neoseeker.com/wiki/Jackals This is what they look like.]] However, it's explicitly stated that the nickname was given because of their scavenging and mercenary ways.
** The flightless birds seen in ''VideoGame/HaloReach'' are named moa, after the extinct real-life species. The latter were 12 feet tall and completely wingless, while the ''Reach'' birds are smaller and have rudimentary wings.
* ''VideoGame/DwarfFortress'': A bunch of goblins are knocking on our door riding beak-dogs? Okay, dogs with beaks ain't so bad -- Urist [=McHammerer=], take 'em -- OH GOD, WHO LET THE VELOCIRAPTORS IN THE DOOR!? As this is simultaneously a mundane-sounding name for an exotic creature '''and''' an unusual name for an earthly creature, this doubles as CallARabbitASmeerp, a rare achievement.
** Additionally, [[{{RidiculouslyCuteCritter}} Fluffy Wamblers]] are often called "sheep" by players, despite being humanoid agricultural pests 1/3 the size of a cat.
* Whatever those things are in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfDragoon'', they are most certainly not horses.
* Not a definite case, since no pictures or descriptions are provided, but some of the creatures in ''{{VideoGame/Rogue}}'' might be this. What sort of emu lives in a dungeon?
* Common in older [=JRPGs=] due to name space constraints and/or poor translation combined with [[PaletteSwap the reuse of sprites]]. ''[[VideoGame/MakaiToshiSaGa The Final Fantasy Legend]]'' features the Wolf and Jaguar, but both monsters use the same graphic of a tiger. Okay, so at least one of those is another type of big cat.
* Most ''{{Franchise/Pokemon}}'' actually have real animal names for their species names.
** For example, Pikachu is the "Mouse Pokemon".
** Some of these are particularly stupid, like Sandslash being called a mouse when it is clearly a pangolin.
** Cradily is called the "Barnacle Pokemon", despite being based on a crinoid, which are in an entirely different phylum.
** The most ridiculous of these would likely be Blastoise, a giant turtle, being referred to as a shellfish.
** Some of the actual names are pretty bad too. Houndoom/Houndour are named after Hounds but are pretty clearly dobermans (that breath fire, but that's where "doom" comes in). There's also the pokemon Golem, who evolved from a rock with a face to a boulder with a face, but aside from being rocky has no resemblance to the mythical Golems (and there are actual Golem pokemon too). Psyduck and especially Golduck bear a much closer resemblance to Platypi then ducks.
** Wooper is referred to as a water fish and Mudkip as a mudfish. Both look more like axolotls than fish, though mudskippers ''are'' fish in the latter's case, lack of resemblance aside.
** Also happens in the Japanese names. Charmeleon, the fire breathing bipedal salamander/chameleon with a tail perpetually lit? That's called a Lizard.
* In ''Digimon'', the obviously rabbit Patamon is called a mouse, as well. Then the rodent CartoonCreature is called Opossumon and it behaves like a cat.
* The Martian Expedition team In ''VideoGame/WakingMars'' refers to most of the life forms you interact with as plants and seeds. ART the on-board AI constantly argues the point that the Martian life forms are not plants, and gives everything grandiose CanisLatinicus names instead.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Mabinogi}}'', The southern region of the continent of Iria (which is a cross between Africa, Australia, and the American Southwest) tends to scale up their animals and tweak them to look more like other animals (such as fennec foxes that look like large hyenas from behind, and mongooses that are two feet tall at the shoulder). Compare the original continent of Uladh (loosely based on ancient Britain), which uses smeerps sparingly (with the exception of Dire Whatevers).
* ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'':
** Most of the higher-level monsters had fairly unusual names, especially in ''Doom II'' but the novels played this trope to the hilt, throwing in "Pinkies" and "Pumpkins", along with other non-animal designations of "Clydes", "Bonies" and "Fire eaters" amongst others.
** Maggots (two-headed crawling demons) and Ticks (exploding {{giant spider}}s) in ''Doom 3''.
* ''{{VideoGame/Touhou}}'': Most ''youkai'' in Gensokyo appear as if they were ''youkai'' in stats only. Check out the CuteMonsterGirl entry.
** There's also the use of "youkai" as a catch-all term for supernatural beings, including some more distinctively western creatures like the Scarlet sisters (European-style vampires).
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'':
** ''VideoGame/YoshisIsland'' has Poochy, a sort of... canine/amphibian hybrid thing with huge lips, no ears and a tongue nearly the size of the rest of its body. It's simply referred to as a "dog" in-game.
** There's also Ravens, which look like pudgy, vaguely avian wingless blobs with feet, and Buzzy Beetles, which neither buzz nor are they insects (instead being more like turtles).
** The ghost dog in ''VideoGame/LuigisMansionDarkMoon'' is also similarly shaped to Poochy, including the lack of ears. It seems that dogs in the mushroom kingdom are ear-less animals.
* The Barracuda Sharks in ''VideoGame/QuakeII'' more resemble deep-sea viperfish than either of the former. The Hornet is a giant half-insectoid half-humanoid flyer.
* ''VideoGame/SepterraCore''. Certain monsters -- especially Thunder Cats (which, in spite of vaguely feline gait and ecosystem role, look more like stone rhinos) and various things marked as spiders and beetles which look very little like their Earth equivalents.
* The Lemmings in ''{{VideoGame/Lemmings}}'' actually look more like humanoid green-haired creatures than actual lemmings, which are rodents. The only similarity is the fact that both actually tend to walk off cliffs to their deaths in huge groups. [[CriticalResearchFailure Apart from real lemmings, that don't.]]
* Several enemies in the ''Franchise/ChaosRings'' series are like this, with the [[http://rpgfan.com/pics/Chaos_Rings_Omega/ss-018.jpg dolphins]] being one of the most bizarre. The games explain it as these monsters, called congloms, are created by from the DNA of terrestrial animals, but that doesn't really explain why they aren't given new names.
* ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'' skirts this and CallARabbitASmeerp in it monsters (at least in the English release), many are variants of normal animals with variations of normal animal names. To wit, Antols are ants the size of a dog, Brogs are large frogs with armored scales on their backs. There are also Ponios, Skeeters, Krabbles, Piranhaxes, etc.
* Be honest; most of the ''SonicTheHedgehog'' characters really don't resemble the animals they are named after all that much, ''especially'' the hedgehogs. And while we're being honest, Doctor Robotnik doesn't really look all that human.
* The species Franchise/JakAndDaxter belong to have massively long [[PointyEars pointy ears]], apparently unlimited [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair hair colors]] (often even [[MulticoloredHair multicolored]]), and its sages have [[AmazingTechnicolorPopulation green, blue, red or yellow]] skin. What do they call themselves? Humans.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Pikmin}}'', Captain Olimar crash lands on a strange world and comes up with names -- common ''and'' scientific -- for many of the plants and animals. A whole family of creatures get christened "[[http://www.pikminwiki.com/Red_Bulborb Bulborbs]]" because Olimar thinks they look like his ''pet dog'', Bulbie. To clarify, it's not so much that THESE Smeerps are being called Rabbits: It's that the ones on his own planet are. The series of shorts Miyamoto directed about Pikmin help clarify this, where one of the main characters was eating one of the Pikpik carrots that named the creatures the series is named after. They do indeed look like them. [[MindScrew Which makes even LESS sense.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Borderlands 2}}'' feature spiderants, massive four-legged insects with tough exoskeletons. While they seem to have a "society" somewhat like ants, physiologically they have little in common with spiders ''or'' ants (and, really, any real-world insect or arachnid you can name).
* In ''VideoGame/{{EtrianOdyssey}}'' most of the monsters are named after real life animals, so you have chubby green Hares, white and purple Mantises with pink wings, Largeants that look more like spiders with a skull for a face, Sloths that more closely resemble a gorilla, and so on...
* ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'':
** The game has mammoths with two pairs of tusks (it stands out, as the other two almost-but-not-quite-Earth animals have Smeerpy names).
** It also continues a mineral variant of this trope, with ebony being a hard mineral rather wood, and malachite, quicksilver and moonstone being similar to their Earth selves, but ''much'' more useful for smithing. The quicksilver (mercury) is used in the form of ingots; apparently Skyrim is ''much'' colder than it looks. Also, the corundum is a coppery-looking metal rather than rubies or sapphires (and in RealLife, the metal you can get from corundum is silvery, since it's aluminum).
* Murfy from the ''VideoGame/{{Rayman}}'' series. [[WordOfGod Officially speaking,]] he's a greenbottle fly. However, his design goes to such CartoonCreature extremes (he only has four limbs instead of six, for example, seems to have skin instead of an exoskeleton, and to say nothing of his huge and perpetually grinning mouth) that he's more often taken for some kind of flying frog than a fly.
* "Flint stones" in ''VideoGame/{{Clonk}}'' are spherical, bright red, and explode when they hit a solid surface.
* The Wind Fish in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening'' is actually a flying whale (which are mammals, not fish.) It's eventually lampshaded by the game itself.
* ''VideoGame/GuildWars2'' has winged lizard creatures with long tails that it calls "bats". The use of this trope is even stranger because in the previous game there were called "incubi".
* ''Videogame/{{Cubivore}}'s'' pigs, bears and birds are nothing like the animals we know, especially not the birds.
* ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIV'' has the protective warriors of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado who don Western-looking garb and weapons. Despite this, they're called "Samurai". It makes a slight amount of sense when you consider that [[spoiler:Mikado was built on top of Tokyo]].
* The "Iguanadon" of ''VideoGame/DonkeyKongJungleBeat'' is a giant Geko with hair.
* ''VideoGame/FreezeME'' has one sidequest where you must round up a farmer's pet "guinea pigs." Said guinea pigs are blue, have bulging eyes, and look like actual pigs [[WaddlingHead without arms or legs.]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Dishonored}}'', pretty much all animals in the setting function under this. Dogs look like pitbulls with crocodilian heads, whales have tentacles, rats travel in swarms like bugs, and that's not even getting into the bizarre things living over on Pandyssia. WordOfGod noted that the design team wanted the animals to look identifiable but subtly alien, like an animalistic version of UncannyValley.
* In ''VideoGame/TheNeverhood'', there is one moment when the protagonist finds a music box. Upon examination, it plays first three bars from "Pop Goes the Weasel". Then the box stops playing... and a weasel appears right behind the protagonist, accompanied with the fourth bar. Said "weasel" is a freakish green crustacean-like mess of pincers; all official information sources refer to it by this name.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/LastRes0rt'':
** Every now and then there's a mention of Jason's dog, Sunny. Said dog has metallic, scaly legs, and a mane on top of that.
** White Noise (an aged Anyr hacker) gets called a horse pretty often too, [[IAmNotWeasel but he objects to that. Loudly.]]
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' has Jeremy the "cat". That's Jeremy "the creature that nature never intended", in fact actually. Although, given his behavior, he might as well be a cat. {{Word of God}}'' claims half-cat, half-hedgehog.
* The pet "bird" of Spatch II in ''Webcomic/RiceBoy''. Has no beak (but a small forked horn instead), neither arms nor wings, sits on his swing like a human, and says: "Fuh!"
* The Bull from ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod''. Which looks nothing like a bull. It's more like a giant bipedal newt whose head has evolved similar to that of a flounder, except that it still has an eye on each side. Furthermore, it has a lure like an anglerfish to attract in curious people and has a skin cape growing from it's back. And the scariest thing is, it eats meat and has opposable thumb enabling it to wield a big-ass lance which it uses to hunt. So clearly, this is nothing like a normal bull.
* The wildlife of Tethys in ''Webcomic/{{Harbourmaster}}'' has some similarities to Earth life. Thus, the colonists gave them names that approximated what they seemed like. For instance, there's the wolf shark, a shark-like creature that hunts in packs like wolves would. Not used for naming were the orca-like patterning and their [[PsychoElectricEel use of electrical pulses for both communication and attack]].
* Lampshaded with respect to ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'' in ''Webcomic/SuperEffective'' when Green reads the Pokedex entry for Pikachu, the "Mouse Pokémon". ("What's a mouse?")
* ''Webcomic/AwfulHospital'': The creatures the Open Wound calls Siamese cats have "gel cores" and a habit of shedding their biovessels. Although, since it's implied that all concepts, including grey-zone ones, have gel cores and similar technobabble-y things, they may simply be normal cats that tend to die a lot.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''Sythyry's Journal'' references a character's "horse" a few times, then makes some comments about said horse pecking at people with its beak.
* ''Website/SpecWorld'', naturally, [[http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a0000265/Spec/index.html has some fun with this]]. Many of the animals ''look'' an awful lot like Earth animals but [[ShownTheirWork are biologically very different]]. Thus we have Unmice, Notacoons, Toothawks, and Baygulls among others. They're just as likely to name animals after fictional species and characters, however.
* ''The Wiki/SCPFoundation'''s SCP-682 is known as the [[NighInvulnerable Hard-to-Destroy]] Reptile. While it may ''look'' reptilian, it's actually [[EldritchAbomination something so alien]] that [[HumansThroughAlienEyes it sees Earth lifeforms as horrific monstrosities]] [[AbsoluteXenophobe that must be killed]].
* [[http://nequ.deviantart.com/art/A-Lykan-1-of-3-253662156 This series]] zig-zags furiously. It takes place in a distant future where humanity as we know it doesn't exist. While the space weredog member of the duo [[CallARabbitASmeerp likes dog-related idioms]] -- turning "carrot and stick" into "treat and (rolled-up) newspaper", for example --, several items seem similar to their usual variants, at first. But "doorknobs" are apparently touchscreen devices that can be hacked, and windows have sliders to control their opacity instead of shades or curtains. Amusingly, {{uncoffee}} doesn't exist; several alien races with precognitive ability exported coffee off-earth before humanity died.
* ''Podcast/WelcomeToNightVale'':
** Cecil's descriptions of [[AdorableAbomination Khoshekh]] or ''cats'' in general don't sound like anything understood under the word outside of Night Vale. Deadly poisonous, his meow is a horrible screech, doesn't purr or acts much like a cat etc.
** Additionally, an "antique" is a deadly creature that can transform anyone it bites into another antique, and a "nutmeg" is a tasty creature that must be de-veined before use.
* Website/{{ClickHole}}'s "[[http://www.clickhole.com/blogpost/when-i-started-writing-game-thrones-i-didnt-know-w-292 When I Started Writing ''Game Of Thrones'', I Didn't Know What Horses Looked Like]]" features Creator/GeorgeRRMartin confessing that he didn't know what horses actually looked like when he started writing, and accidentally ended up with this trope in his attempts to write around his ignorance.
* In [[http://notalwaysright.com/talking-at-at-cross-purposes/39806 this story from "Not Always Right"]], a customer refers to [[Film/ReturnOfTheJedi Ewoks]] as "little dogs".

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'':
** "Penguins" have four wing-flippers and mammalian noses and whiskers instead of beaks. They're also big enough that two kids can use them as sleds. This example is made odder by the fact that most of the animals in the series have hyphenated names to reflect their [[MixAndMatchCritters mixed-and-matched features]]. They're called otter-penguins according to the [[AllThereInTheManual supplemental book]] ''The Lost Scrolls: Water''.
** There's also the sky bison/wind buffalo, which look like giant, six-legged bovines, which brings up the question of how they fly. The answer is that they were the original Airbenders, like badger-moles were the original Earthbenders.
** Momo, who looks like a mix between a monkey and a bat is just a "lemur" in the series, and a lemur-''bat'' in [[Film/TheLastAirbender the movie]].
** Rhinos, which look like a mammalian version of a triceratops.
** When the protagonists get a chance to see a no-modification, no-special-abilities, completely ordinary run-of-the-mill bear, they become genuinely confused.
--->'''Aang:''' You mean platypus-bear?\\
'''Katara:''' No, it just says "bear".\\
'''Sokka:''' Certainly you mean his pet skunk-bear.\\
'''Toph:''' Or his armadillo-bear!\\
'''Aang:''' Gopher-bear?\\
'''Katara:''' Just... bear.\\
'''Toph:''' This place is weird.
* Wildmutt from the ''Franchise/Ben10'' franchise is referred to as a dog, which is pretty reasonable except it has ape arms, gill-like flaps that it uses to smell, and neither eyes nor ears.
* The "Hornet" monsters (also called "Frelion") in ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'' are green, ten-winged, spike-mouthed, poison-spitting digital beasts, and aside from their "stingers" (which shoot FrickinLaserBeams), they aren't very hornet-like. Similarly, the monsters called "crabs", while red and flat, have four long, spindly legs instead -- though their name is spelled "[[XtremeKoolLetterz Krabe]]", despite its pronunciation. Eventually [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in Season 2 when Odd dubs the new monsters that [[CurbstompBattle slaughtered the team]] "tarantulas"; when Yumi responds in confusion, Odd repeats his name choice and says that he likes for his enemies to have names.
* ''WesternAnimation/JimmyTwoShoes'':
** Cerbee; everyone refers to him as a dog. He barks like a dog, is [[Myth/ClassicalMythology named after a dog]], and does several dog things -- but he's a small, one-eyed horned monster who, other than having four legs, looks little like a dog.
** Also the Weevils. Real weevils are a type of beetle. The weevils in ''Jimmy Two-Shoes'' are furry chipmunk-like rodents. There is actually a reason behind the name -- it's a combination of "weasel" and "evil".
* ''WesternAnimation/LiloAndStitchTheSeries'': Some of Mrs. Hasagawa's pet "cats" are actually aliens. To say nothing of Stich himself. [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} Lilo]] immediately thinks of [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/5f/Stitch.png/200px-Stitch.png him]] as a "dog", a cover which is used often in the series (to the point that Stitch was able to enter a dog show). Lampshaded by Lilo's sister in the movie, when describing Stitch to a friend over the phone:
-->'''Nani:''' I think it might be a koala... an ''evil'' koala.
* In ''WesternAnimation/QuasiAtTheQuackadero'', Quasi and Anita are supposed to be ducks, but look nothing like ducks.
* The [[http://theamazingworldofgumball.wikia.com/wiki/File:S02E29Dogs.png dogs]] (as in pets, not the occasional anthropomorphic dog) in ''WesternAnimation/TheAmazingWorldOfGumball'' look nothing like dogs at all: some of them are brightly colored and cyclopean, some look like a quadrupedal version of Anime/{{Domo}}, and yet others are [[AnthropomorphicFood living hot dogs]].
* A version of this appears in a episode of ''WesternAnimation/YoungJustice''. One alien character is named for an animal which does not exist, but he decides that he shall be called ''Wolf.'' Superboy immediately [[DefiedTrope defies this trope]] this by introducing the alien to his [[ADogNamedDog wolf named Wolf]]. Then the alien decides on the name "Bear".
* PlayedForLaughs in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheBraveAndTheBold'', where Aquaman's power to talk to fish extends to silverfish, which Batman points out are actually insects.
* ''Franchise/MyLittlePony'' as a whole is an example when you look at it closely. They might be roughly equine-shaped, but giving the moniker of "ponies" to creatures that are sapient, multicolored, with magical tattoos gained at puberty... it's a stretch once everything is taken into consideration. This is perhaps more pronounced with G3.5 and G4 ponies, who as many horse lovers can tell you, only ''barely'' resembles anything equine.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Very small children invoke this trope all the time, calling pretty much anything with fur either "doggie" or "kitty", and anything with wings a "bird". It's called "overextension". In one cute example, a child referred to a crab as a 'special tortoise'.
* Contrary to popular belief, the scientific ordering and names of various flora and fauna are '''''not''''' set in stone. They can and are subject to changes [[ScienceMarchesOn depending on new research]], and animals once thought to be related to another can later be considered unrelated at all, which can invoke cases of this trope. One example: Bobcats' scientific name was changed from ''Felis rufus'' to ''Lynx rufus''.
* The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minehead_Hobby_Horse Minehead Hobby Horse]], an English tradition, looks more like a boat than a horse.
* Whether the large, wooly bovines of North America are called "bison" or "buffalo" has caused more than one [[FandomBerserkButton heated debate]] in its day. However, "buffalo", though once deprecated, is becoming seen as acceptable again. After all, American bison were first called "buffalo" (from French "boeuf" meaning "ox") in 1635; the term "bison" (from Greek "bison" ''also'' meaning ox) was first used for them in 1774. While they are certainly more similar to European bison, they're nearly always called "buffalo" in the regions where they're actually found -- which is what "common name" means -- and the binomial nomenclature prevents there being any confusion among zoologists.
* When American settlers first encountered what Europeans generally refer to as "wapiti" (''Cervus canadensis'') in North America, they called it the "elk", since they deemed it closest to that European deer in appearance and size. However, when they encountered the same species that ''Europeans'' call elk (''Alces alces''), they used the Algonquin name "moose". To further complicate matters, ''C. canadensis'' is closely related to and is sometimes classified as the same species as the European "red deer", ''C. elaphus'' (though the Red Deer is somewhat smaller). Even so, it seems both cultural spheres have kept their respective namings to the present day.
* American Pronghorn Antelope are no more related to Old World antelopes than to goats, deer, and cattle, though they do share a certain resemblance. They are, in fact, the last remnants of an otherwise extinct uniquely American group of animals. The pronghorn family, Antilocapridae, is a sister group to both the Cervidae or "deer family" and to the Bovidae, which includes cattle (including buffalo and bison), goats (including sheep), and the various other kinds of "antelope". And giraffes. The "antelopes" of the Old World are typically no more closely related to each other than to other Bovid groups like goats or cattle.
* Red pandas, a.k.a. firefoxes, are neither foxes, nor close relatives of the giant panda. Not called "red raccoons", despite looking quite a bit like exactly that, because it's only in the last few decades that non-Americans even knew what a raccoon was (or at least didn't think of them as every bit as exotic and not-a-basis-for-comparison as, say, kangaroos).
* Speaking of American raccoons, their Russian name is derived from the "genet" — a Mediterranean fur animal with a similar tail.
* On the other hand, giant pandas have flip-flopped on this trope. Originally thought to be bears, their unusual coloring and lifestyle led some to conclude that they must be instead related to red pandas and thusly, according to the knowledge of the time, to raccoons. [[ScienceMarchesOn Thanks to genetic testing and other newer techniques]], it's now known that ''neither'' species is part of the raccoon family. Giant pandas are now firmly acknowledged as bears, while red pandas are placed in their own family, ''Ailuridae'' (and are closest to the common ancestor of bears, raccoons, weasels and skunks).
* European explorers did this a lot when they came to Australia.
** Koala "bears" are marsupials, not bears. Australians (and many other folks, too) usually just call them "koalas" now.
** The echidna was originally called the spiny anteater (it ''does'' eat ants, but it is unrelated to the animals known as anteaters).
** Rottnest ("Rat Nest") Island in Western Australia was so called because a Dutch explorer thought the quokkas (small kangaroo-like marsupials) there were rats.
** There are no alligators in the Alligator River--indeed, there are no alligators native to anyplace other than the United States and China. There are, however, plenty of crocodiles.
** The Australian Magpie is only distantly related to the Eurasian Magpie (which is in the same family as crows and ravens). It manages to look more crow-like than its namesake though.
* Guinea Pigs, being small furry rodents, have no actual relation to pigs; this was used for comedic effect in a 1954 Disney short, ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzlRnuDLsV0&feature=related Pigs is Pigs]]''. It's generally held that domestic cavies were first called "guinea pigs" because they were commonly kept (on ships, which used them as food supplies while at sea) in enclosures resembling miniature pig-pens; they're also built like pigs and make many similar noises. The German name for them, "''Meerschweinchen''", actually means "little ''dolphin''", "''Meerschwein''" ("sea pig") having been the older German word for dolphin. In Spanish they are know as "Conejillos de Indias" (Indian Bunnies) and while they sorta look more like rabbits than to pigs, the name is also misleading, In Peru, Chile and other Andean regions they are simply known as "Cuys", which is an accepted term that ends all confusion. Another English term for them that averts this trope entirely is "Cavy", but is not nearly as popular.
* Porcupines got their name from the Middle French ''porc espin'' ("spined pig") since their body shape and snout resembles that of pigs, but they're actually rodents. Fortunately, most people know this.
* Hedgehogs aren't related to pigs. Their name dates back to the Middle English of the 15th century; it was known as ''heyghoge'', and called such because it was frequently seen in hedgerows (''heyg''), and had a snout like that of a pig (''hogge''). This one is clearly still relatively common knowledge, to the point that their name has changed spelling to keep up with the modern versions of the words "hedge" and "hog".
* Groundhogs (also known as woodchucks) are rodents, not pigs, but were called that because their burrowing habits were reminiscent to pigs. Their very names are even subject to lingual limbo: "groundhog" is a transliteration of the Dutch word ''aardvark'' (itself a name for an animal which is unrelated to pigs, but named such for the same reasons as groundhogs). "Woodchuck" doesn't actually refer to chucking wood, but is derived from the Algonquian name for them: ''wuchak''.
* Prairie dogs were given their name by French explorers, but they're small burrowing rodents, and look nothing like dogs. They were probably named "prairie dogs" because they can bark like a real dog, though. Even the genus of their scientific name, ''Cynomys'', is Greek for "dog mouse."
* The ''{{tanuki}}'' suffers from a bit of this. They're canids often misidentified as a raccoon or a badger. Its English name is raccoon-dog. Same for many other languages.
* When Chinese explorer Zheng He brought a live giraffe back from Africa in 1414, Chinese scholars identified it with a mythological beast called the ''[[{{Unicorns}} qilin]]'', based on some superficial similarities between the two. Post-15th-century representations of qilin in art look a lot more like giraffes than the original creature, a chimera with the head and horns of a dragon and the body of a horse. In Japan and Korea, giraffes are still known as "kirin" to this day.
** Hence, the Franchise/{{Pokemon}} [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Girafarig Kirinriki]] (it's a palindrome in the original Japanese characters (キリンリキ), just as its English name Girafarig is a palindrome).
* The Japanese name for the tapir is "baku", after a dream-eating [[{{Youkai}} mythical creature]] that it [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baku_%28spirit%29 very vaguely]] resembles. Most modern portrayals of the mythical baku are simply tapirs outright, only with the abilities of the mythical creature.
* Hares aren't considered part of the group of genera as other rabbits, though they're all still in the same family -- hares don't burrow and aren't born blind or hairless. That means, technically, "jackrabbits" (another name for hares) is a misnomer, but that's just [[{{Pun}} splitting hares]].
* Tasmanian Tiger/Wolf: A very recently extinct animal that got the name "tiger" for the stripes on their back. These wolfish creatures are actually marsupials.
* Sabre-Toothed Cat: Originally coined the Sabre-toothed tiger, they have no relation to modern day tigers other than being cats.
* Many people assume that any creature whose genus name ends in "-saur" must be a dinosaur, but this isn't true:
** Pterosaurs, usually generically called pterodactyls, aren't dinosaurs, but ''archosaurs''--diapsid cousins of dinos like crocodilians. If you want a real look at a winged dinosaur, look at a bird.
** The same also applies for marine reptiles like sauropterygians (the famous plesiosaurs+ pliosaurs+ nothosaurs+ placodonts) and ichthyopterygians (ichthyosaurs+ thallattosaurs). The same goes for Basilosaurus, which is a ''whale'', although it was initially misidentified as a reptile.
** Sometimes Dimetrodon is also called a dinosaur, but it turns out that it isn't even a reptile (at least, it isn't in any of the modern reptile groups), but actually an early relative of mammals.
* Many of the strange invertebrates of the Cambrian era also get this treatment, as many of them were named with the sufix "-caris", meaning "shrimp". This includes ''Sanctacaris'', an early relative of sea scorpions, ''Nectocaris'', a squid-like molusc, and most famously ''Anomalocaris'', who even keeps getting refered to as a "prehistoric giant shrimp" in laymen's publications, despite not looking anything like one and being actually closer related to velvet worms.
* Early explorers, biologists, and colonists named many North American birds for their resemblances to Old World species. When [[ScienceMarchesOn Science Marched On]], more than a few resemblances proved superficial ...
** The American Robin and its relatives in other parts of the New World were named by colonists for the European Robin, probably due to the red breasts on both birds ("Robins" are more archaically known as "Robin ''Redbreasts''"). Later, biologists classified both birds (and their related species) as thrushes, but recently the European Robin and its Eurasian cousins have been put in the family of Old World Flycatchers (which are, in turn, not very close relatives of New World Flycatchers), though the New World birds called robins are still classified as thrushes (all of which fit into the ''Turdus'' genus; other New World thrushes, with the exception of bluebirds and solitaires, tend to be explicitly called thrushes).
** New World Orioles (family ''Icteridae'') were named for the Old World Orioles (the mostly African family ''Oriolidae'')--as with the New World Robins, it was likely due to similar appearances.
** Also in the Icteridae family: American Blackbirds (genus ''Agelaius''). They were named for their predominantly black colors, much like the Common Blackbird, a European ''thrush'' who is therefore a relative of... the American Robin, even sharing a genus with it.
** [[RuleOfThree Another group of Icteridae members]], the Meadowlarks hardly look like a real lark (of which there is only one species, the Horned Lark, native to North America; Europeans call it the Shore Lark)--but it sings like one.
** Certain parts of the Americas also refer to vultures as buzzards. This is an old name for birds of the genus Buteo, which includes such species as the Red-tailed Hawk and its relatives, none of which look anything like vultures. The word hawk, in turn, traditionally referred only to the smaller, bird-hunting Accipiters, such as Goshawks, "Sharpies", Sparrowhawks, etc. To make matters even more confusing, the North American buzzard/vultures (family Cathartidae) bear only a superficial resemblance to the old world vultures; they are closer kin to the Andean and California Condors than to their bald-headed namesakes.
** The American Kestrel used to be called a Sparrow Hawk, but its name was changed to recognize its closeness to its European cousin, the Common Kestrel, as well as the fact that it is a falcon (the smallest and most common in the United States, to be exact) and not a hawk (going by both the New World definition of Buteo and the Old World definition of Accipter).
** Subverted with the American Goldfinch and other goldfinch species found in the United States -- they share a genus, ''Carduelis'', with the European Goldfinch much as the American Robin and Eurasian Blackbird are both in the genus ''Turdus''.
** New World sparrows are in the family Emberizidae like Old World buntings (and a handful of New World ones like the Snow Bunting) rather than Passeridae as with Old World species. However, some New World emberizids TakeAThirdOption and are called juncos or towhees. In turn, most New World buntings are actually in the cardinal family, Cardinalidae.
** This occasionally happens outside the Americas as well. The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunnock Dunnock]] is sometimes referred to as the Hedge Sparrow, but it is not in the family Passeridae as true Old World sparrows such as the House Sparrow (which eventually ended up among the Old World species introduced to North America) are. However, one that stuck was the Java Sparrow, which is actually an estrildid finch (family Estrildidae), though to be fair estrildid finches are fairly close relatives of Old World sparrows, and it's possible that it used to be considered to be a true sparrow but changed families much as how the European Robin changed families. In addition to their relationship with estrildid finches, Old World sparrows are also more closely related to weavers (family Ploceidae) than New World sparrows, and older sources often placed them in the same family (occasionally leading to cases of CallARabbitASmeerp), though typically they are considered separate families nowadays.
** Similarly to the Dunnock, grackles ([[RunningGag yet another group of members of the family Icteridae]]) are often informally referred to as crows in parts of the Americas that do not have true crows. However, American species of true crows, such as the common American Crow, are in the same genus as Old World crows such as the Carrion Crow (the same genus also includes ravens and other species such as the Rook).
** The now-extinct Great Auk was the ''original'' penguin and is a flightless member of the family Alcidae, which also includes extant species such as auklets and puffins. Then this trope was applied to some Southern Hemisphere birds that resembled it but aren't close relatives of the auk family and the rest is history.
** Some types of waxbills got labeled as finches.
** In Liberia, the Cattle Egret is often called a Cowbird. The American birds known as cowbirds are [[RunningGag even more examples of members of the family Icteridae]] and look absolutely nothing like the Cattle Egret (which is in the heron family). Of course, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin they are birds often seen around cows]], so...
** The French word for "turkey", ''dinde'', comes from ''poulet d'Inde'', "Indian chicken". They just kept the naming convention developed when the first European explorers to North America were convinced they'd reached the eastern Asian shore. That's why Native Americans are still referred to as "Indians", for instance.
** The English word for "turkey", by the way, derives from the country of the same name--the name comes from the early modern English tendency to give anything from the New World a name with an "exotic" connotation, no matter where the animal came from. These American birds were thus called "Turkey fowl" and eventually just "turkeys," since Turkey was seen to be as exotic as the Americas. Indeed, most languages use some equivalent of either "Turkey fowl" or "India fowl" for turkey; witness Arabic ''dajaj Rumi'' ("fowl from Anatolia"--i.e. Turkey[[note]]This one's particularly convoluted, since "''Rumi''"originally meant ''Roman''; eventually it specifically meant ''[[UsefulNotes/TheByzantineEmpire Eastern]]'' Roman, and then referred to the land forming the bulk of the Eastern Roman Empire--Anatolia.[[/note]] and Turkish ''Hindi'' ("Indian", a shortening of a longer phrase meaning "Indian fowl").
*** The Muscovy duck (also native to the Americas) may have gotten its name for a similar reason.
** In the Old World, screech owl is another name for the Barn Owl, which is the most widespread member of the family Tytonidae, which is sometimes called the barn owl family. However, in the New World, screech owl refers to members of the genus ''Megascops'', which tend to be much smaller than a Barn Owl (the common Eastern and Western Screech Owls are both no bigger than an adult's fist, while the Barn Owl is much larger than they are) and are also in the family Strigidae like most other owls (and is also the family of all owls found in the United States except for the aforementioned Barn Owl).
* Speaking of turkeys, in spanish, peacocks are referred as "Pavo Real" (Royal Turkey) an animal which they don't resemble much apart of both being birds.
* Originally, "fish" meant "any water animal", and any animal that lived in the water was fair game to be called a "fish" (for example, jellyfish, starfish, etc.). Then, when scientists better understood how these creatures are related to one another, they decided that "fish" should refer only to certain gilled, finned vertebrates. Much hilarity ensued.
** The cuttlefish is not a fish but a cephalopod (the same class that octopodes and squids belong to).
** "Walrus" is derived from the Norse name, which translates as "horse-whale"
** Similarly, "Porpoise" means "pig fish"
** Some Roman texts referred to crocodiles as "Egyptian fish"
** The Sandfish lizard is possibly the only thing called a fish that doesn't live in the water. It got its name because it moves through loose sand similarly to how a fish moves through water. (Sadly, it has very little resemblance to the LandShark trope.)
** As an aside, the thinking that ''anything'' that lived in water was a "fish" proved to be a convenient loophole during Lent. You couldn't eat chicken--but you could eat beavers. Some populations of turtles have even been endangered or wiped out by demand driven by this thinking. On the other hand, some South American ''people'' (South American natives ate capybaras and caimans, but not fish) are only ''alive'' because of it.
* In a strange double-take on this trope, the Patagonian Toothfish is a sort of bass. It is also extremely tasty and served in the finest restaurants, but as a "Toothfish" sounds as tasty as deep fried molars tempura, the fish is instead sold as Chilean Sea Bass. The fish is in so high demand many fear it may wind up driven to near extinction through overfishing.
** "Sea bass" can get even more complicated in the United States where restaurants and places selling fish have an approved list of species that can legally be sold as "sea bass". All ''several dozen'' of them, some in entirely different families. The sea bass served at one restaurant might be as closely related to the sea bass served at another restaurant as a cow is to a giraffe, hippopotamus, or a whale (although oddly, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Even-toed_ungulate cows, giraffes, hippos, and whales are surprisingly closely related]]).
* The Hippopotamus has received the same treatment that sea animals have. Its name is actually Greek for ''river horse''. This extends to other languages as well: in Dutch and German, it's called ''Nijlpaard'' and ''Nilpferd'' respectively, both of which mean "Nile horse." In Hebrew; it's ''Soos Ye'Or'', also meaning Nile Horse (Soos: Horse, Ye'Or: Biblical name of the Nile), although the word ''hipopotam'' seems to be much more common. It extends to Mandarin Chinese as well, with the term for hippopotamus being "河马" (''hémǎ''), literally ''river-horse.''
* [[PsychoElectricEel Electric eels]] aren't even true eels, they are members of a group of electrical fish that includes the knife fish and the ghost fish.
* Insects get their share of this, too:
** "Bug" actually means "creepy-crawly", it's related to "bugaboo" and possibly to the Slavic words for "god" (gods can be scary); it can be applied not only to insects but to any arthropod (lobsters and crawfish, both, are sometimes called "mudbugs", and they're crustaceans, as are pillbugs). Scientists restrict "bug" to mean insects of the order Hemiptera, but technical jargon is not normative for common speech, any more than the grammar of Latin is normative for English.
** Fireflies aren't actually flies, but beetles. The German name for them, Glühwürmchen, isn't better. It means "glowing worms".
*** "Glowworm" is a common name for the larval form of many species of fireflies in English as well. The ladybug is more properly known in entomological circles as the ladybird beetle--from "ladybird," which is the older term (ladybug is the Americanized variety). They got their name from ''the'' Lady, as in the Virgin Mary, because she used to be portrayed wearing a scarlet cloak, and the spots--which, in the species historically most common in Europe, always number seven--are said to represent her seven joys and seven sorrows). Other language names for the ladybug/ladybeetle/ladybird make the connection more obvious: in German they're called ''Marienkäfer'' (Mary-beetle). It's even weirder in Hebrew: Coming from an earlier Yiddish name (and earlier than that, various Central European nicknames) they are called ''Parot Moshe Rabenu'' after the Prophet Moses - lit. "Our Master Moses' ''Cows''". Another common Yiddish name for them was "Moses' ''Horses''".
** Several dialects of French, notably Cajun, call ladybugs "vaches du Bon Dieu", "the Good Lord's cows." Similarly mantises are "chevaux de diable", "the devil's horses".
** In Polish the ladybug's official name is ''biedronka'', but in some regions it's still called ''Boża krówka'' ("the Lord's cow"), especially by elderly people. Even in areas where it's called ''biedronka'', there's a strong religious connotation, and there is even a nursery rhyme which goes: "Biedroneczko, leć do Nieba, przynieś mi kawałek chleba" ("Ladybug, fly to Heaven and bring me some bread") - it's usually spoken by little kids who set free a ladybug they've caught.
** In Russian, a ladybug is also "the Lord's cow" (Bozhya Korovka), and an analogue of the above rhyme exists.
** In Danish they're called ''Mariehøner'' which is Mary-hen.
** Camel spiders and wind scorpions are neither spiders nor scorpions. (They're {{Eldritch Abomination}}s.) Actually, they're "solifugids", a unique group of arthropods that somehow got labeled with the names of more common arachnids.
** Bald-faced hornets (''Dolichovespula maculata''} are more closely related to yellow jackets (''Vespula'' species) than to old-world or true hornets (''Vespa'' spp.). Yellow jackets, especially the queens, are also often called "ground hornets".
* This just doesn't happen to animals, but to plants as well. Just as "fish" used to mean "anything that lives in the sea," "apple" used to be a generic term for any fruit.
** Tomatoes suffer from quite a bit of disassociative categorizing. ''Botanically,'' they are fruits, but ''culinarily'' they are considered vegetables (and thus everyone assumes they are veggies). This has led to some legal hilarity; the Supreme Court of the United States, during the 1893 case ''Nix v. Hedden,'' decided that tomatoes should be classified as vegetables under customs regulations; the court unanimously agreed that the Tariff Act of 1883 used common, not botanical, meanings for "fruit" and "vegetable." The case has been cited as precedent for defining tomatoes as vegetables ever since, which is why it's the official state ''vegetable'' of several American states.
** Tomatoes were once called "love apples". The French name for them, ''pomme d'amour'', is thought to be a corruption either of ''pomi di Mori'' (Moor's apple) or ''pomodoro'', the later because the first tomatoes to hit Europe may have been orange in color.
** Potatoes have been likened to apples in several languages. The textbook French name for the potato is ''pomme de terre''--"apple of (the) earth", although ''patate'' is also used. The Dutch call them ''Aardappel'', which literally translates to "Earth Apple." The Hebrew name for potatoes, ''Tapu'Akh Adama'', also means "apple of (the) earth" (Tapu'Akh = Apple, Adama = Earth/Soil). This is also true for the German word ''Erdapfel'', although ''Kartoffel'' is far more common--but the German term for French fries is the [[GratuitousFrench French loanword]] ''Pommes Frites'', literally meaning "fried ''apples''."
** The French also have the "patate douce" (sweet potato). Sometimes, some French say only the "patate douce" can be called patate. Nobody ever agrees.
** [[FromBadToWorse It gets more complicated]]: In America, at least, the "sweet potato" (''I. batatas'') is also called a "yam". The problem is that a yam is a completely different vegetable (''Dioscorea'' spp.) that 'resembles' the sweet potato only in that it is an edible root; sweet potatoes are generally about six inches long, thin-skinned, and related to morning glories. Yams are tough-skinned, up to 8 feet long, can weigh 100+ pounds, and are related to lianas (those things Tarzan swung on). The sweet potato is also a common term for the ocarina, which is a musical instrument and not edible (except in the context of some Music/PDQBach works).
** Presumably the sweet potato (New World) being called a yam (Old World) is because most agricultural workers in (Anglophone) America were African slaves, who applied this trope to the local root vegetables (yams are a major staple crop in much of Africa, including many places the slaves came from).
** Another Hebrew take on the apple is the "golden apple", i.e. the orange ("''Tapuz''", which is an abbreviation for "''Tapuach Zahav''"). It's a fairly recent addition to the language, and this fruit apparently had no previous Hebrew name whatsoever (foreign names were used).
** That said, Norwegian dialects use to differ between the "earth apple" (the Potato) and the "sweet apple" (the regular apple). This lexical use came about years before the sweet potato arrived in Norway.
** The English word "corn" used to refer to any grain, such as wheat or barley. When English speakers reached the New World and first saw the yellow grain that grows on a cob, they called it "maize", based on a native name for it, but at some point started calling it "sweet corn" instead. North American Anglophones, however, called it "Indian corn", then shortened this to "corn"; "sweet corn" refers only to certain varieties. The rest of the world still calls it "maize".
** The confusion between different meanings of the word "corn" leads to much hilarity when those unfamiliar with it translate English literature into, say, Korean. Fields of maize appear in medieval England and children become unreasonably tall.
** This is also true to French-speaking North Americans (especially French Canadians) - though "maïs" (French for "maize") is generally understood, French Canadians generally refer to it as "blé d'inde", ''wheat from India'' (or, "Indian Corn").
** Grapefruits are a citrus fruit, not an actual grape. They got their name because they grow in clusters, which look like bunches of grapes--but "grapefruit" isn't their original name. They were originally known as "shaddock" or "shattuck" until the 19th century.
** Shaddock is also a name for the pummelo, the grapefruit's larger cousin.
** The word "pineapple" was originally a word for what we now call a pine cone. Pine trees are not related to apple trees. The word was then applied to the fruit now known by that name, since it resembled a pine cone. Pineapple plants are not related to pine trees. Finally, the word "pineapple" for a pine cone fell out of use, being used exclusively for the fruit. ''Pineapple plants aren't related to apple trees, either.''
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwifruit Kiwifruit]] used to be called "Chinese gooseberries." They were deliberately renamed to "kiwifruit" for marketing reasons, since they resembled the eponymous flightless bird -- well, insofar as both are small, brown, off-round, and furry-looking.
** Kiwifruit itself in Chinese is usually given a weird assortment of names, currently being known as a Macaque Peach, despite the fruit looking nothing like a peach (or a macaque!). [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiwifruit#Names It's also called a pear in some versions]]
** Along the same lines, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalis_peruviana the cape gooseberry]] is not related to actual gooseberries, or any other plant (such as the kiwifruit) that is sometimes referred to as a gooseberry. They're also sometimes called "ground cherries," due to their sweetness and tart undertones, but they're also not related to any variety of cherry. They're actually closely related to tomatillos and tomatoes.
** Neither water hemlock nor poison hemlock (both "hemlocks" are poisonous) are related to hemlock trees (nor very closely to each other).
** The name "oregano" has been given to several different species on the basis of similar flavor and aroma; e.g., Mexican oregano and Cuban oregano are completely different plants. Also, true oregano and majoram get mixed up in several languages, with either being named after the other.
** "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronychia_acidula Lemon aspen]]" is a form of Australian "bush food" tree that produces small, slightly acidic, slightly lemony fruit. It is not actually a kind of aspen (aspens are in the willow family)--but in an odd zig-zag, it ''is'' fairly closely related to actual lemons (both being in the rue family).
* Even viruses get this treatment. The illness that is sometimes known as "the stomach flu" or "the 24-hour flu" is not even remotely the same virus as the one you get immunized against every year. The stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, affects the stomach and digestive tract. The flu, or influenza, is an upper respiratory infection.
* Nutrias (or coypus, or "South American swamp beavers") are neither rats nor beavers, they are in their own separate family, albeit in the Rodentia order. Muskrats and water rats aren't true rats either.
** "Rat" and "mouse" are terms erroneously applied to dozens if not hundreds of species of non-murid rodent, from packrats and mole rats (two for one, as they're not moles either!) to dormice and kangaroo mice.
*** "Dormouse" originates as a misspelling or folk etymology of the original "dormeous", as in "sleeps a lot".
** Bear in mind that the South America "nutria" is a rodent, but it was named by the Spanish after the Eurasian otter--a carnivoran of the family Mustelidae (the weasel family), and thus no more closely related to the nutria than a ''giraffe''.[[note]]Otters and giraffes are part of the large super-clade Laurasiatheria; nutria, being rodents, are part of the super-clade Euarchontoglires (which comprises the rodents, lagomorphs--that's rabbits, hares, etc.--and ''primates''--so yes, ''people''). The Laurasiatheria and Euarchontoglires are sister taxa, forming the Boreoeutheria together. This means that otters and nutria are more closely related to each other than they would be to, say, an armadillo or an elephant (or elephant shrew)--but that's not particularly closely related, is it?[[/note]]
* The trees of the Pacific Coast called cedars (genera ''Thuja'', ''Chamaecyparis'', ''Calocedrus'', etc.) are not related to the true cedars(genus ''Cedrus''), which are native to the Mediterranean and Himalayan regions, although three of these species have been cultivated in America. The only things in common are that they both are conifers with aromatic wood.
* Do a web search for a picture of a Sea Hare and decide for yourself if it looks anything like a relative of the bunny rabbit.
* Similarly, Sea Butterflies, also known as Cliones, are not insects at all but a type of slug. They're also referred to as Marine Angels, but [[OurAngelsAreDifferent given how bizarre some of the angels described in]] Literature/TheBible were this is understandable.
* Since horses died out in the Americas at the end of the last Ice Age, Native Americans often made use of this trope when Europeans came riding the beasts thousands of years later:
** The Blackfeet called horses "big dogs".
** To the Aztecs, they were "Castilian stags".
** After conquering the Aztecs, Cortés made a (friendly) stop in the Mayan city of Noh-Petén/Tayasal while on a expedition to Honduras, where he left a horse that had been injured and couldn't keep the march. A century later, two missionaries visited the city and found that the natives [[CargoCult worshiped]] an unmistakable statue of a horse they named "the fulgurant tapir" (hilariously one of the most accurate terms, since tapirs and horses are actually related, and horses ''are'' [[LightningBruiser "fulgurant"]] when compared to tapirs).
** A double example happens in the 1570 [[PerspectiveFlip Inca account]] of the conquest of Peru by Titu Cusi Yupanqui, who says that when the Incas first saw horses they though of them as "big sheep in silver shoes". By "sheep" he actually means llamas, who had been called "Peruvian sheep" by the Spanish (the account is written in Spanish because the Incas didn't have an alphabet of their own).
* The Dutch language has many examples of these:
** A seal is called a "zeehond" (literally: "sea dog").
** A lamantine is called a "zeekoe" (literally: "sea cow")
** A hippopotamus is called a "nijlpaard" (literally: "Nile horse")
** A whale is called a "walvis", despite not being a fish at all.
** A harbour porpoise is called a "bruinvis" (literally: "brown fish"), despite not being a fish, nor always "brown".
* Catfish, dogfish, and sea cows.
** Many things under the sea with similar names, it was once thought that every land animal had a sea equivalent. While this sometimes sorta made sense, usually the names were just shoehorned to an animal.
** Sea Cows closest relatives are actually Elephants. They got the name cows because they almost exclusively eat sea grass (there we go again) and do so in a slow grazing fashion, much like a cow, and generally have a fairly pleasant and friendly nature due to the lack of any possible environmental threat until the invention of the motorboat.
* When Sea Monkeys were being marketed, the packages showed illustrations of [[http://www.lghmarketstrategy.com/sea-monkeys-and-marketing-is-there-a-connection/ little humanoid seafolk]] frolicking in their own miniature undersea kingdom which you can hatch from the eggs that the package came with. For those who have never kept Sea Monkeys, this is what they [[http://brineshrimp.co.za/images/brineshrimp.jpg look like]]. This was actually a plot point in one of the episodes of ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' where Cartman buys a package of "Sea People" (a parody on Sea Monkeys) expecting to hatch a colony of merpeople who will take him away "this crappy god damn planet full of hippies". He's enraged when they hatch and are nothing more than brine shrimp.
* The Manhattan project hid the names of the elements it was working with under mundane code names: uranium-235 was "magnesium," neptunium was "silver" and plutonium was "copper." When it eventually became necessary to use real copper, the scientists had to refer to it as "honest-to-God-copper."
* Tardigrades are also known as water bears or moss piglets. They are neither bears nor swine, but rather aquatic eight-legged micro-organisms.
* The French word for the shrew is "''musaraigne''", literally meaning mouse-spider. They are neither (though shrews at least look like mouses, but they aren't rodents). The likening to spiders came from the folklore belief that all shrews are venomous (some are, but not all species).
* The correct group name for any Great Ape is a Troop. Unless you ask an American what a group of Baboons are called, who will likely respond with [[TakeThat a Congress.]]