Try Our Apps


What is the origin of "February"?

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
1880-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for folk-etymology
Historical Examples
  • But the story of Tuna gives no folk-etymology of the name Tuna.

    Modern Mythology Andrew Lang
  • But occasionally the results of folk-etymology are literally preposterous.

  • When folk-etymology and contamination work together, the result is sometimes bewildering.

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

  • The latter word is in French dame-jeanne, but both forms are possibly due to folk-etymology.

  • The Tuna story is described as ‘a clear case of disease of language cured by the ordinary nostrum of folk-etymology.’

    Modern Mythology Andrew Lang
  • We must never confuse such myths of folk-etymology with myths arising (on the philological hypothesis) from ‘disease of language.’

    Modern Mythology Andrew Lang
  • Now, to give an etymology of a name of forgotten meaning is the sole object of folk-etymology.

    Modern Mythology Andrew Lang
  • This historical connection is most probably due to folk-etymology.

    The Romance of Names Ernest Weekley
  • The explanation of lugsail as a sail that is lugged seems to be a piece of folk-etymology.

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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for folk etymology

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for folk

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for folk-etymology