From Middle High German wefse, webse, wespe, from Old High German wefsa. The forms with -sp- come from Middle Low German wespe, from Old Saxon waspa (10th century, alongside older wepsia), spreading to Middle High German in the 12th century. Some Upper German dialects retain the original consonantism to this day, e.g. Swabian Wefz, Bavarian Weps, Webes. The spread of -sp- was reinforced, if not triggered, by Latin vespa. Popular association with the verb wispeln from Old High German hwispalōn (“to whir, to whisper”) is also likely; compare Central Franconian Wespel (“wasp”). Both the High German and the Low German forms go back to Proto-West Germanic *waspijā, a variant of *wapsu.
Cognates include Dutch wesp, English wasp, French guêpe. These are often traced back to Proto-Germanic *wapsō, from Proto-Indo-European *wobʰseh₂ (“wasp”), pertaining to *webʰ- (“to weave”). There are some formal problems to this particular reconstruction, however, most importantly the fact that Proto-Germanic *wapsō is an anomalous form lacking the expected effect of Primärberührung.
Wespe f (genitive Wespe, plural Wespen)
- wasp (insect)
- “Wespe” in Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, 16 vols., Leipzig 1854–1961.
- “Wespe” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
- “Wespe” in Uni Leipzig: Wortschatz-Lexikon
- “Wespe” in Duden online
- plural of