Meaning of folk etymology in English:

folk etymology



  • 1A popular but mistaken account of the origin of a word or phrase.

    ‘Every time I poke around in an area like this, I'm amazed by the range of nascent constructional folk etymologies that are out there.’
    • ‘So there were lots of these sort of folk etymologies.’
    • ‘Such folk etymologies are common, but worth verifying.’
    • ‘I suspect that the spelling was a folk etymology, an eggcorn, that replaced the unfamiliar element linch with the familiar word lynch.’
    • ‘The latter explanation may, however, simply be a folk etymology or constitute the reason why Albanians identify themselves with the eagle.’
    • ‘In both cases, the first step has been mostly forgotten, and only shows up as a pinch of folk etymology in the history of the word/expression.’
    • ‘Of the Newfoundland ‘Noah and Goat’ stories, however, my favourite one contains not only folk etymology, but the precise location of Noah's accent.’
    • ‘Like all juicy urban legends this folk etymology is completely bogus.’
    1. 1.1mass noun The process by which the form of an unfamiliar or foreign word is adapted to a more familiar form through popular usage.
      ‘Here we see the workings of the process of linguistic change known as folk etymology.’
      • ‘We've been using eggcorn as a term for the kind of sporadic folk etymology represented by interpreting acorn as ‘egg corn’.’
      • ‘Smith doubted that Perchta descended from a pagan goddess, but thought that she was the personification of Epiphany (Perchta's Day), derived through folk etymology.’
      • ‘As the meaning of kit was in turn forgotten, the whole compound became opaque, inviting the intervention of folk etymology.’
      • ‘The second element of lapwing, namely wing, is due to folk etymology.’
      • ‘This might be taken to be a folk etymology, like ‘Jerusalem’ for ‘girasole’ in ‘Jerusalem artichoke’ (a kind of sunflower).’
      • ‘The ‘lager head’ variant was new to me, but I suspect it is more of a sporadic folk etymology than a regional variant.’
      • ‘On this hypothesis, his use of ‘marquis’ is an eggcorn, which is what we've taken to calling a sporadic folk etymology.’
      • ‘Indeed, it might be seen rather as a corruption than as a true folk etymology, if the hallmark of the latter is the somehow meaningful reshaping of a word.’
      • ‘Like folk etymology, sometimes news reports spread in absence of, or even in direct opposition to, the facts, because they better fit what we want to believe.’