Names of Animals and Insects Formed by Folk Etymology – By Mark Nichol…

on Daily Writing Tips:

This post lists words derived from words in other languages as a result of folk etymology, a process by which speakers adopt the foreign terms after revising them by using existing elements from their native language.

bumblebee: This word stems from the Middle English word humbul-be, but by association with bombeln, meaning “boom” or “buzz,” the initial sound changed.

caterpillar: The word for a butterfly or moth larva stems from the Old French word catepelose (“hairy cat”); the alteration of the third and fourth syllables to -pillar (from Middle English piller, meaning “plunderer”) may have developed from the notion of its destructive effect on plants.

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