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c.1200 (as a surname), from Old French grifon "a bird of prey," also "fabulous bird of Greek mythology" (with head and wings of an eagle, body and hind quarters of a lion, believed to inhabit Scythia and guard its gold), from Late Latin gryphus, misspelling of grypus, variant of gryps (genitive grypos), from Greek gryps (genitive grypos) "curved, hook-nosed," in reference to its beak.
Klein suggests a Semitic source, "through the medium of the Hittites," and cites Hebrew kerubh "a winged angel," Akkad. karibu, epithet of the bull-colossus (see cherub). The same or an identical word was used, with uncertain connections, in mid-19c. Louisiana to mean "mulatto" (especially one one-quarter or two-fifths white) and in India from late 18c. to mean "newly arrived European."
composite mythological creature with a lion's body (winged or wingless) and a bird's head, usually that of an eagle. The griffin was a favourite decorative motif in the ancient Middle Eastern and Mediterranean lands. Probably originating in the Levant in the 2nd millennium BC, the griffin had spread throughout western Asia and into Greece by the 14th century BC. The Asiatic griffin had a crested head, whereas the Minoan and Greek griffin usually had a mane of spiral curls. It was shown either recumbent or seated on its haunches, often paired with the sphinx; its function may have been protective