From Middle Dutch katteken (“catkin”, literally “little cat”), equivalent to cat + -kin. So named due to the resemblence of lengthier kinds to a kitten’s tail, or, perhaps more probably, the fine fur found on some catkins (compare the pictures, respectively). Cognate with German Kätzchen, modern Dutch katje.
catkin (plural catkins)
- (botany) A type of inflorescence, consisting of an axis with many unisexual apetalous flowers along its sides, as in the willow and poplar.