Posted by Beany on June 29, 2005
In Reply to: 'Folk etymology' posted by Bob on June 28, 2005
: : : : There is an expression that originated in transatlantic ocean travel relating to the best side of the ship to travel on. What is that phrase?
: : : You may be thinking of the posh (Port Out Starboard Home) myth, one of many folk etymologies that people love to parade around on leashes. See http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/287800.html
: : Strictly speaking, this is not folk etymology. Folk etymology is the changing of a word to reflect other familiar words or elements of words. For example, 'cucaracha' becomes 'cockroach'.
: Don't know that I'd agree. We're talking about the folk invention of an origin of a word. If that's not etymology, what would you call it?
Well, linguists use the term 'fake etymology' for a mistaken explanation for the origin of a word, and 'folk etymology' as I described above.
I agree that 'folk etymology' would seem an apt term for a 'fake etymology', and it seems that it is increasingly used this way.
There's some comment on the differences in the link below, including some suggestions for more descriptive terms.