popular etymology
Definition - Another name for folk etymology, a word-creation process where an existing word is modified because of a mistaken assumption about its composition or meaning. Usually the new word makes the other word's parts more meaningful.

Example -

(1) The Old English word agnail — which denoted a "swelling around the nail" — evolved into hangnail, a word that seems to better describe the phenomenon.

(2) Similarly, the word shamefaced was derived from shamfast, bound by shame, and cutlet was derived from French côtelette, little rib.

Etymology -
According to the OED, the term was coined from the German Volksetymologie, folk etymology.

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1880:
"Such myths are created by those popular etymologies—that Volksetymologie as the Germans call it—which play so large a part in local names."
(A. H. Sayce Introd. Sci. of Lang. II. ix. 246)



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