The word is apparently derived from reference to the hooked beak, and knows a great many variations in spelling as well as small variations in pronunciation. The most accepted spelling is 'griffin' from old English, however as we go back to the French we reach griffon, Latin gryphus and gryps, which are akin to if not exactly the spellings of the other accepted variants. This leaves us with the three acceptable spellings and pronunciation of gryphon, griffin, and griffon which most dictionaries seem to agree on but some will omit one, such as the entry copied to griffin which while showing the above reference to the beak, and the roots of the Latin version do not include gryphon as an appropriate spelling.

The extreme loyalty of mated gryphon pairs may be traced back to the 9th century Irish writer Stephen Scotus, who even if not the exact origin of this legend may well have been the one to popularize it. There are also numerous sources that claim that gryphon eggs are, or resemble agates.

There are also references to the gryphons inhabiting gold rich regions of Scythia, where they built their nests of gold only due to the ready abundance of the material. This however is said to have set them at odds with the one-eyed Arimaspains, who treasured the gold for decorating their hair, and so would fight with the gryphons over the mines, if not possibly also their nests.