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When referring to a male duck I was told that I should always use the appropriate term "Erpel" when talking about the bird as depicted here:

enter image description hereWikimedia

Usage of the alternative term "Enterich" should be restricted to a more poetical usage or in a context as shown below:

enter image description hereWikimedia

Admittedly "Enterich" sounds awkward to me but Duden lists both words as synonyms with approximately same usage frequency. In the German Wikipedia the term "Erpel" seems not to exist in the context of ducks.

Is it true that there is a different usage of both terms? When would we prefer one over the other?

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Erpel does exist in Wikipedia, the page Erpel (Begriffsklärung) says die Bezeichnung für eine männliche Ente, siehe Entenvögel. On that page, that's right there is no further mentioning of the term. My personal opinion is, that Erpel is the correct biological term, and Enterich is used in the context of stories. –  Geziefer Mar 7 '12 at 11:49
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Once upon a time my professor started with "Liebe Studenten und Studerpel!" (probably a pun on political correctness, as you were supposed to say "Studentinnen und Studenten" or "Studierende" instead of the male form "Studenten"). –  Landei Mar 7 '12 at 14:32
    
+1 for the crisp duck-and-run pixies :-) –  TheBlastOne Mar 8 '12 at 16:08

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I would agree Martin Kremers (even the "Duden" says so, and this is where we germans look for authoritive answers on german language) and have to add, that in my life almost no one ever has used either of these words. You'll find these word in use when you're talking to biologists or when it comes to hunting, but else people will usually simply say "Ente" or maybe "männliche (male) Ente" if they want to point out on the sex. Enterich or Erpel is more of a technical term in german language.

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Both are okay because "Erpel" is a short form / synonym of "Enterich".

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I have to disagree: Erpel has an etymology that is very different to Ente. –  Takkat Mar 7 '12 at 14:11
    
I agree with @Takkat - also note that Erpel and Enterich only have the letter e in common, so I don't see why one would regard this as a short form. –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 8 '12 at 9:33

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