Folk Etymology
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Folk Etymology

English

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Etymology

English from the 1880s (Abram Smythe Palmer, 1882), a calque of German Volksetymologie (1820s, in 1821 as Volks-Etymologie in J. A. Schmeller's Die Mundarten Bayerns grammatisch dargestellt).

Noun

folk etymology (countable and uncountable, plural folk etymologies)

  1. A misunderstanding of the etymology of a word appealing to the unlearned mind; an etymology that incorrectly explains the origin of a word based on a judgement out of knowledge or passions of a common speaker of the language instead of expertise in its past.
    Synonyms: fake etymology, false etymology, pseudo-etymology, paraetymology, paretymology
    Many folk etymologies involve backronyms.
    • 1986, Robert Richardson, Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind, Berkeley: University of California Press, ->ISBN, page 237:
      He even sharked up a false or "folk" etymology in which saunter is made to derive from sainte terre, making the saunterer a crusader.
    • 2006, Shaligram Shukla and Jeff Connor-Linton, "Language change", in Ralph Fasold and Jeff Connor-Linton, editors, An Introduction to Language and Linguistics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ->ISBN, page 296:
      Thus hamburger (whose true etymology is 'city of Hamburg' + er 'someone from') has been reanalyzed as ham + burger 'burger made with ham.' [...] Subsequently, on the analogy of this folk etymology, new forms such as cheeseburger, chiliburger, and plain burger have been created.
  2. A modification of a word or its spelling resulting from a misunderstanding of its etymology, as with island, belfry, and hangnail.
    • 1882, Abram Smythe Palmer, Folk-etymology: A Dictionary of Verbal Corruptions, London: George Bell, OCLC 493786531, page 654:
      SURCEASE owes its form and meaning to a remarkable folk-etymology, as has been pointed out by Prof. Skeat:--"It is obvious, from the usual spelling, that this word is popularly supposed to be allied with cease, with which it has no etymological connexion."

Related terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also


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folk_etymology
 



 



 
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