Many half-human mythological creatures follow a few common anatomical schemes.

  • Some consist of an animal with a human face, such as the sphinx, naga and manticore.
  • Some consist of a human anterior and animal posterior, such as the satyr, faun, ipotane and mermaid.
  • Some consist of an animal whose head has been replaced with a human torso, such as the centaur.

Using latin as the source language a la Linnaean taxonomy, what would be a logical terminology for unambiguously distinguishing between these body types?

EDIT: The answers I've been getting have been really great. I was inspired to do some more research and discovered some Latin, Greek and "New Latin" vocabulary as an alternative to linguistically correct terms.

  • Semifer and Semihomo, Latin synonyms for half-beast half-human hybrids.
  • Theropod, or "beast-footed", referring to theropod dinosaurs, but could easily be repurposed to distinguish satyrs, fauns, ipotanes, mermaids, cilophytes, etc. In these hybrids the body sections are joined at the pelvis.
  • Therocephalian, "beast-headed", referring to a suborder of eutheriodont therapsids, but could easily be repurposed to distinguish animal-headed Egyptian and Vedic deities, minotaurs, werewolves, reverse mermaids, etc. In these hybrids the head is animal and the body is humanoid.
  • Anthro(po)cephalus, "human-headed", used for a variety of species names, but could easily be repurposed to distinguish sphinxes, naga, shedu, lamasu, etc. In these hybrids the head is human and the body is animal.
  • Cephalothorax inversus, of my own coinage, could refer to centaurs, khepri, etc. The phrase works by analogy: where a cephalothorax is a torso with a head and face in the chest, the inversion is a torso sprouting from where the head and face would be. In these hybrids the head of one parent is replaced with the torso of the other; unlike the theropods the join is between pelvis and clavicle.

2 Answers 2


Upper part humans or Semisohominum - from Semisos meaning half and Hominum meaning human. This includes the species of;

Human-headed or Maximobestia - from Maxime meaning mostlyand Bestia meaning animal. This includes the species of;

Human with animal head or Maximohominum - from Maxime meaning mostly and Hominum meaning human. This includes the species of;

Human with some animal parts or Bestiahominum - from Bestia meaning animal and Hominum meaning human. This includes the species of;

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm in awe at this answer and I think it should be the one marked as correct. $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2016 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ Centaurs and satyrs/mermaids aren't arranged in the same way. The latter is half and half, while the former is an animal body with the head replaced by a human torso. What would be a reasonable way to distinguish this? Or, for that matter, reversed versions thereof? $\endgroup$
    – Anonymous
    Jul 15, 2016 at 12:45
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    $\begingroup$ Very nicely done TrEs $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jul 15, 2016 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ I promise that the puns are not intended. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Jul 15, 2016 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ @celtschk I'm not going to lie and say I speak Latin, I used google translate (which can be unreliable) and Freelang $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Jul 16, 2016 at 8:21

As a native speaker of a romance language, I'll vouch for Semi-humanus as an umbrella term for all those body types.

If you want to make that into a phylum or some other taxonomical level, contract it by dropping the -, making it Semihumanus.

If you allow for a mix with greek, Semiantropos will also do.

Now, for each body type:

Human head, animal body: Humanocaput (from "humanus" and "caput" which means "head" or "top"). Again, if you allow for some greek mixing, you can have "ops" ("face") instead of "caput": Humanops.

Half human, half animal body: Animumanus ("animal" is originally a latin word) (can also switch this one with Semihumanus).

Human body, animal head: Animocaput (or Animops if you allow for some greek).

Append a name having to do with each animal for a complete species name. For example, the Minotaur can be Animocaput taurus.

  • $\begingroup$ What about distinguishing more finely between a satyr/mermaid body and centaur body? The former is mathematically half and half (what would be the appropriate adjective for "reverse" I wonder?), while the latter replaces one half's head with another half's entire torso connected at the pelvis/clavicle (pelviclavicle? pelavicle? pelvicle?). $\endgroup$
    – Anonymous
    Jul 15, 2016 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Renan in greek it would be 'Hemianthropos' (ημιάνθρωπος). like hemisphere = half shpere. $\endgroup$
    – papakias
    Jul 15, 2016 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ Actually I think "Humanimus" would sound better than "Animumanus". $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Jul 16, 2016 at 7:18

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