Folk etymology is a term used in two distinct ways:
The term "folk etymology", as referring both to erroneous beliefs about derivation and the consequent changes to words, is derived from the German Volksetymologie. Similar terms are found in other languages, e. g. volksetymologie in Dutch, Afrikaans volksetimologie, Danish folkeetymologi, Swedish folketymologi, and full parallels in non-Germanic languages, e. g. French étymologie populaire, Hungarian népetimológia; an example of an alternative name is Italian pseudoetimologia.
Folk etymology is particularly important because it can result in the modification of a word or phrase by analogy with the erroneous etymology which is popularly believed to be true and supposed to be thus 'restored'. Analogy is both the cognitive process of transferring Information from a particular subject (the analogue or source to another particular subject (the target and Etymology is the study of the History of Words &mdash when they entered a language from what source and how their form and meaning have changed over time In such cases, 'folk etymology' is the trigger which causes the process of linguistic analogy by which a word or phrase changes because of a popularly-held etymology, or misunderstanding of the history of a word or phrase. Analogy is both the cognitive process of transferring Information from a particular subject (the analogue or source to another particular subject (the target and Here the term 'folk etymology' is also used (originally as a shorthand) to refer to the change itself, and knowledge of the popular etymology is indispensable for the (more complex) true etymology of the resulting 'hybridized' word.
Other misconceptions which leave the word unchanged may of course be ignored, but are generally not called popular etymology. The question of whether the resulting usage is "correct" or "incorrect" depends on one's notion of correctness and is in any case distinct from the question of whether a given etymology is correct.
Until academic linguistics developed the comparative study of philology and the development of the laws underlying sound changes, the derivation of words was a matter mostly of guess-work, sometimes right but more often wrong, based on superficial resemblances of form and the like. See Comparative linguistics for the narrower field of "comparative philology" Sound change includes any processes of Language change that affect pronunciation ( phonetic change) or sound system structures ( Phonological change This popular etymology has had a powerful influence on the forms which words take (e. g. crawfish or crayfish, from the French crevis, modern crevisse, or sand-blind, from samblind, i. e. semi-, half-blind), and has frequently been the occasion of homonyms resulting from different etymologies for what appears a single word, with the original meaning(s) reflecting the true etymology and the new meaning(s) reflecting the 'incorrect' popular etymology. In linguistics a homonym is one of a group of words that share the same pronunciation but have different meanings and are usually spelled differently
In linguistic change caused by folk etymology, the form of a word changes so that it better matches its popular rationalisation. For example:
More recent examples:
Other changes due to folk etymology include:
When a back-formation rests on a misunderstanding of the morphology of the original word, it may be regarded as a kind of folk etymology. The Chartreux is an internationally recognized breed of domestic Cat from France. Glazing is a transparent part of a Wall, usually made of Glass or Plastic ( acrylic and Polycarbonate) A horn is a pointed projection of the Skin on the head of various Mammals consisting of a covering of horn ( Keratin and other Proteins In Etymology, back-formation refers to the process of creating a new Lexeme (less precisely a new "word" by removing actual or supposed Affixes
In heraldry, a rebus coat-of-arms (which expresses a name by one or more elements only significant by virtue of the supposed etymology) may reinforce a folk etymology for a noun proper, usually of a place. Canting arms is a technique used in European Heraldry whereby the name of the individual or community represented in a Coat of arms is "translated" into
The same process sometimes influences the spelling of proper names. The name Antony/Anthony is often spelled with an "h" because of the Elizabethan belief that it is derived from Greek ανθος (flower). In fact it is a Roman family name, probably meaning something like "ancient".
See the following articles that discuss folk etymologies for their subjects:
The French verb savoir (to know) was formerly spelled sçavoir, in order to link it with the Latin scire (to know). A Tower which contains one or more bells or which is obviously designed to hold bells (even if it has none is a bell tower. The blunderbuss is a muzzle-loading Firearm with a short large Caliber barrel, which is flared at the muzzle, and used with The phrase "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey " is a Colloquial expression used by some English speakers The Brent Goose ( Branta bernicla) a Goose of the Genus Branta, is known in North America as Brant. A Caesarean section (or Cesarean section in American English) also known as C-section, is a form of Childbirth in which a surgical A chaise longue (ʃɛzˈlɔ̃ɡ French "long chair" is an Upholstered Couch in the shape Chav (ʧæv or Charv/Charva (ʧɑːv Crayfish, crawfish, crawdads, or crodgers are freshwater Crustaceans resembling small Lobsters to which they are closely Dormice are Rodents of the family Gliridae. (This family is also variously called Myoxidae or Muscardinidae by different taxonomists Ducking-stools and cucking-stools are chairs formerly used for Punishment. Gringo (feminine gringa) is a Spanish and Portuguese word used in Latin America to denote foreign non-native The Jerusalem artichoke ( Helianthus tuberosus) also called the sunroot or sunchoke or earth apple or topinambur, is a species In the field of computer security phishing is the Criminally Fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames Passwords A poll tax, head tax, or capitation is a Tax of a uniform fixed amount per individual (as opposed to a percentage of income A rake is defined as a man habituated to immoral conduct Rakes are frequently Stock characters in novels Amelanchier, also known as shadbush, serviceberry, sarvisberry, juneberry, Saskatoon, shadblow, shadwood Sic is a Latin word meaning "thus" "so" "as such" or "just as that" Sincerity is the Virtue of one who speaks truly about his or her own feelings thoughts desires Welsh rarebit, Welsh rabbit, or more infrequently rarebit is traditionally a savory sauce made from a mixture of cheese and various other ingredients and served hot In fact it is derived from sapere (to be wise).
The spelling of the English word posthumous reflects a belief that it is derived from Latin post humum, literally "after the earth", in other words after burial. In fact the Latin postumus is an old superlative of post (after), formed in the same way as optimus and ultimus.
The spelling of the English word lethal reflects a belief that it is derived from Lethe, the river in the mythological kingdom of the dead. In Classical Greek, Lethe (λήθη Classical Greek, Modern Greek:) literally means "forgetfulness" or "concealment" In fact it comes from the unconnected Latin word letum, meaning death.
In British English, aubergines are sometimes called "mad apples". The eggplant, aubergine, or brinjal ( Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades The Italian word for the aubergine is melanzana, which was misheard as mela insana.
Medieval Latin has a word, bachelarius (bachelor), of uncertain origin, referring to a junior knight, and by extension to the holder of a University degree inferior to Master or Doctor. A bachelor is a man above the Age of majority who has never been married (see single) This was later re-spelled baccalaureus to reflect a false derivation from bacca laurea (laurel berry), alluding to the possible laurel crown of a poet or conqueror.
Olisipona (Lisbon) was explained as deriving from the city's supposed foundation by Ulysses (Odysseus), though the settlement certainly antedates any Greek presence. Lisbon (Lisboa liʒˈboɐ is the Capital and largest city of Portugal. grc-Latn Odysseus or la Ulysses ( Greek grc-Latn Odysseus; Latin: la Ulixes or more commonly Ulysses) oʊˈdɪsiəs
In Southern Italy in the Greek period there was a city Maloeis (gen. Maloentos), meaning "fruitful". This was rendered in Latin as Maleventum, "ill come" or "ill wind", and renamed Beneventum ("well come" or "good wind") after the Roman conquest. Benevento is a town and Comune of Campania, Italy, capital of the Province of Benevento, 50 km northeast of Naples.
In the Alexandrian period, and in the Renaissance, many (wrongly) explained the name of the god Kronos as being derived from chronos (time), and interpreted the myth of his swallowing his children as an allegory meaning that Time consumes all things. The Renaissance (from French Renaissance, meaning "rebirth" Italian: Rinascimento, from re- "again" and nascere Cronus or Kronos, ( Ancient Greek Κρόνος Krónos) was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants
The American Grizzly bear is so named because its hair is grizzled or silver-tipped, but its name was later mistakenly derived from grisly meaning “horrible”. The Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis, also known as the Silvertip Bear, is a Subspecies of Brown bear (Ursus arctos that lives This error has been perpetuated in the grizzly bear's scientific trinomial name: Ursus arctos horribilis. In zoology, a trinomen, or trinominal name refers to the name of a Subspecies.
The question of whether the resulting usage is "correct" or "incorrect" depends on one's notion of correctness; at any rate it is a separate issue from the question of whether the assumed etymology is correct. When a confused understanding of etymology produces a new form today, there is typically resistance to it on the part of those who see through the confusion, but there is no question of long-established words being considered wrong because folk etymology has affected them. Chaise lounge and Welsh rarebit are disparaged by many, but shamefaced and buttonhole are universally accepted. See prescription and description. In Linguistics, prescription can refer both to the codification and the enforcement of rules governing how a language is to be used
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain. The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911 is a 29-volume reference work that marked the beginning of the Encyclopædia Britannica The public domain is a range of abstract materials &ndash commonly referred to as Intellectual property &ndash which are not owned or controlled by anyone