folk etymology

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English from the 1880s (Abram Smythe Palmer, 1882), a calque of German Volksetymologie (1820s, in 1821 as Volks-Etymologie in J. A. Schmeller, Die mundarten Bayerns).


folk etymology ‎(plural folk etymologies)

  1. A misunderstanding of the etymology of a word; a false etymology that incorrectly explains the origin of a word.
    Many folk etymologies involve backronyms.
  2. A modification of a word or its spelling resulting from such a misunderstanding, as with island, belfry, and hangnail.

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