Change in the form of a word or phrase resulting from a mistaken assumption about its composition or meaning, as in shamefaced for earlier shamfast, “bound by shame,” or cutlet from French côtelette, “little rib.”
Unscientific etymology; popular but incorrect notion of the origin and derivation of a word: folk etymology may bring about change, as in the case of “cole slaw” becoming “cold slaw”
A misunderstanding of the etymology of a word; a false etymology that incorrectly explains the origin of a word.
Many folk etymologies involve backronyms.
Origin of folk-etymology
- 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).