Which Word Wednesday: Frog vs. Toad

By November 30, 2011 language No Comments

Are you familiar with the Frog and Toad children’s books? I read them back in the day and was reminded of them in an article by Erin Newcomb posted at Christ and Pop Culture on Monday. The best books present characters so real that readers consider them friends. Frog is the sort of guy who is friendly and easy going. Toad is more serious and pensive. Their differences do not prohibit them from being friends, however (a lesson we all need, whatever our age).

But Frog and Toad are not people; they are creatures. So I began to consider the differences between actual frogs and toads . . . which landed me on the topic for this week’s Which Word Wednesday.

Let’s dig in with the definitions from The Oxford American Dictionary:

frog :: noun
a tailless amphibian with a short squat body, moist smooth skin, and very long hind legs for leaping

toad :: noun
a tailless amphibian with a short stout body and short legs, typically having dry warty skin that can exude poison

Both are tailless with short bodies. But frogs get the long legs and moist skin while the toads have short legs and dry skin with warts and poison.

Ron Evans gives us further insight from his The Artful Nuance: “They differ in at least four obvious respects. Frogs like water, are smooth skinned, leap, and have teeth. Toads, except when breeding, aren’t aquatic; are dry, rough skinned, and warty (though they don’t cause warts); and are toothless.”1

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What’s my WWW verdict? When you come across a stout, tailless amphibian, and you aren’t sure if it’s a frog or a toad, just ask it to smile. The presence or absence of teeth will solve it.

What’s your verdict? Do you the Frog and Toad adventure stories? Were you aware that frogs have teeth but toads go gummy? Do share in the comments.

Check out previous Which Word Wednesday verdicts here.

1. Ron Evans, The Artful Nuance: A Refined Guide to Imperfectly Understood Words in the English Language (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2009), 104.

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