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folk etymology

a modification of a linguistic form according either to a falsely assumed etymology, as Welsh rarebit from Welsh rabbit, or to a historically irrelevant analogy, as bridegroom from bridegome.
a popular but false notion of the origin of a word.
Origin of folk etymology
First recorded in 1880-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for folk etymology
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At Queensferry, by a folk etymology, one of the lads wears a coat stuck over with burrs.

    Modern Mythology Andrew Lang
  • We have a bear Callisto (Artemis) in Arcady, where a folk etymology might explain it by stretching a point.

    Modern Mythology Andrew Lang
British Dictionary definitions for folk etymology

folk etymology

the gradual change in the form of a word through the influence of a more familiar word or phrase with which it becomes associated, as for example sparrow-grass for asparagus
a popular but erroneous conception of the origin of a word
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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