tad·pole (tăd’pōl′)
n. The aquatic larva of a frog or toad, having gills, a long, laterally compressed tail, and in early stages, no limbs. During metamorphosis of a tadpole into an adult, legs and lungs develop, and the tail gradually disappears. Also called polliwog.
[Middle English taddepol : tadde, tode, toad; see TOAD(Cf. toad) + pol, head; see POLL(Cf. ↑poll).]
Word History: The word tadpole, which first appears in English in the 1400s, is an old compound word whose meaning is no longer transparent. Tad is a variant of the word toad, while pole is simply an alternative spelling of poll, meaning "head." Tadpole thus means "a toad that is all head," so to speak. Nowadays, the original meaning of the word poll, "head," is most prominent in poll tax, "a tax consisting of a fixed amount and levied on all individuals," a kind of tax that also often used to be called a head tax. (In modern times, poll taxes are most often levied on adults eligible to vote.) The most common senses of poll today are probably "a survey of public opinion" and "the place where votes are cast." The word probably developed these senses at least partly through the notion of the head as the most prominent part of each individual in a crowd—the part that could be counted. A similar notion is found in the phrase "a head of cattle."
from top to bottom:
egg and three stages of a tadpole metamorphosing into a frog

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tadpole — Tad pole , n. [OE. tadde toad (AS. t[=a]die, t[=a]dige) + poll; properly, a toad that is or seems all head. See {Toad}, and {Poll}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) The young aquatic larva of any amphibian. In this stage it breathes by means of external or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Tadpole — (englisch für „Kaulquappe“) ist: der Originaltitel eines Films mit dem deutschen Titel „Alle lieben Oscar“ die verbreitetste Bauform des Liegedreirades UGC 10214: „Tadpole Galaxy“ (Kaulquappengalaxie) der Name eines Herstellers von Notebooks mit… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • tadpole — ► NOUN ▪ the aquatic larva of an amphibian such as a frog or toad, having gills and a tail and lacking legs until the later stages of its development. ORIGIN from an Old English word meaning «toad» + POLL(Cf. ↑poll) (probably because the tadpole… …   English terms dictionary

  • tadpole — (n.) c.1400, from tadde toad (see TOAD (Cf. toad)) + pol head (see POLL (Cf. poll) (n.)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • tadpole — [tad′pōl΄] n. [ME taddepol < tadde, toad + poll, head, hence, toad that seems all head] 1. the larva of certain amphibians, as frogs and toads, having gills and a tail and living in water: as it matures, the gills usually are lost and legs… …   English World dictionary

  • tadpole — /tad pohl/, n. the aquatic larva or immature form of frogs and toads, esp. after the development of the internal gills and before the appearance of the forelimbs and the resorption of the tail. [1400 50; late ME tad(de)pol, equiv. to tad(de) TOAD …   Universalium

  • Tadpole — A tadpole or polliwog (also pollywog, polliwig, [ [http://www.onelook.com/?other=web1913 w=Polliwig Polliwig in Webster s Unabridged Dictionary] ] , polewig, or polwig [http://machaut.uchicago.edu/cgi bin/WEBSTER.sh?WORD=polwig Polwig in Webster… …   Wikipedia

  • tadpole — UK [ˈtædˌpəʊl] / US [ˈtædˌpoʊl] noun [countable] Word forms tadpole : singular tadpole plural tadpoles a small animal that lives in water and develops into a frog …   English dictionary

  • tadpole — [15] A tadpole is etymologically a ‘toad head’. The word was coined from Middle English tadde ‘toad’ and pol ‘head’ (ancestor of modern English poll ‘voting’, historically a counting of ‘heads’). Tadpoles, with their moonlike faces appearing to… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • tadpole — A man who is dating a woman considerably older then himself. Look at Betty, she s landed herself a tadpole …   Dictionary of american slang

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