Concept

False etymology

Summary
A false etymology (fake etymology, popular etymology, etymythology, pseudo-etymology, or par(a)etymology) is a popular but false belief about the origin or derivation of a specific word. It is sometimes called a folk etymology, but this is also a technical term in linguistics. Such etymologies often have the feel of urban legends and can be more colorful and fanciful than the typical etymologies found in dictionaries, often involving stories of unusual practices in particular subcultures (e.g. Oxford students from non-noble families being supposedly forced to write sine nobilitate by their name, soon abbreviated to s.nob., hence the word snob). Many recent examples are "backronyms" (acronyms made up to explain a term), such as posh for "port outward, starboard homeward". Source and influence Erroneous etymologies can exist for many reasons. Some are reasonable interpretations of the evidence that happen to be false. For a given word there may often have been many serious
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