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'Folk etymology'

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 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.

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