I will mark the return of the Monday Mandarin Meanings series with a fun bug:
This is yǎngchūnkē, the Mandarin word for a backswimmer (family Notonectidae). The English name of this bug gives you some indication of its natural behavior – it swims backwards, i.e. upside down:
(Image from here)
As you can see, its hind legs are modified into paddle-like tools very useful for its swimming technique. I collected some of these a few years ago as part of the Biology of Insects class at the UM Biological Station.
Anyways, the first character in the Chinese word for the insect is 仰 (yǎng), which means “to face upward”. The Chinese word for something is often more descriptive than the corresponding English one, and this is no exception. “Facing upward” is more precise, in my opinion, than “backswimmer”. The second two characters, 蝽科 (chūnkē), actually mean Pentatomidae, which is a different taxonomic family in the same order, Hemiptera – the “true bugs”. So the full name, 仰蝽科 (yǎngchūnkē), is essentially “Facing upward Pentatomidae-like bug”.
UPDATE: In the comments, “biozcw” pointed out that “仰蝽” is actually an abbreviation of “仰泳蝽”, which is literally “backwimming”, or “backstroke”. My interpretations for Monday Mandarin Meanings are usually intended to be just for fun, but it’s always nice having a more accurate interpretation!