complex nature of the logical associations which specify them.
In actual fact, these associations are not only complex but sometimes perplexing. It would seem that if you know that the verb formed from the name of an animal denotes behaviour typical of the animal, it would be easy for you to guess the meaning of such a verb provided that you know the meaning of the noun. Yet, it is not always easy. Of course, the meaning of to fox is rather obvious being derived from the associated reputation of that animal for cunning: to fox means "to act cunningly or craftily". But what about to wolf? How is one to know which of the characteristics of the animal was picked by the speaker's subconscious when this verb was produced? Ferocity? Loud and unpleasant howling? The inclination to live in packs? Yet, as the following example shows, to wolf means "to eat greedily, voraciously": Charlie went on wolfing the chocolate. (R. Dahl)
In the same way, from numerous characteristics of the dog, only one was chosen for the verb to dog which is well illustrated by the following example:
And what of Charles? I pity any detective who would have to dog him through those twenty months.
(From The French Lieutenant's Woman by J. Fowles)
(To dog — to follow or track like a dog, especially with hostile intent.)
The two verbs to ape and to monkey, which might be expected to mean more or less the same, have shared between themselves certain typical features of the same animal:
to ape — to imitate, mimic (e. g. He had always aped the gentleman in his clothes and manners. — J. Fowles);