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folk etymology

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noun
  1. 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.
  2. a popular but false notion of the origin of a word.

Origin of folk etymology

First recorded in 1880–85
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for folk etymology

Historical Examples

  • It has sometimes been assumed that most names of this class are due to folk-etymology.

    The Romance of Names

    Ernest Weekley

  • This historical connection is most probably due to folk-etymology.

    The Romance of Names

    Ernest Weekley

  • But occasionally the results of folk-etymology are literally preposterous.

  • The companion-ladder on ship-board is a product of folk-etymology.

  • But the story of Tuna gives no folk-etymology of the name Tuna.

    Modern Mythology

    Andrew Lang


British Dictionary definitions for folk etymology

folk etymology

noun
  1. 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
  2. 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