cockroach

cock·roach (kŏk’rōch′)
n. Any of numerous insects of the order or suborder Blattaria, having oval flat bodies and laying eggs in hardened cases, and including several species that are common household pests.
[By folk etymology from obsolete cacarootch, from Spanish cucaracha, from cuca, caterpillar.]
Word History: The English word cockroach comes from the Spanish cucaracha. An early English form of cockroach is found in the writings of Captain John Smith, the English adventurer who helped found the British colony of Virginia in 1607. In a work first published in 1624, Smith describes the insects on the islands of Bermuda: "Musketas and Flies are also too busie, with a certaine India Bug, called by the Spaniards a Cacarootch, the which creeping into Chests they eat and defile with their ill-sented dung." Smith's spelling of the Spanish word was perhaps influenced by caca, the word for "excrement" in the baby-talk of many European languages, including Spanish and English. Later the form taken by the Spanish word cucaracha in English was influenced by another word, cock, "rooster," and the modern form cockroach was born. (This phenomenon, the alteration of a word resulting from a mistaken assumption about its meaning, is called folk etymology by linguists.) The Spanish word cucaracha has nothing to do with roosters, however. It is thought to be related to cuca, a word for a common kind of moth caterpillar in Spain.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cockroach — Cock roach, n. [Sp. cucaracha.] (Zo[ o]l.) An orthopterous insect of the genus {Blatta}, and allied genera. [1913 Webster] Note: The species are numerous, especially in hot countries. Those most commonly infesting houses in Europe and North… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cockroach — [käk′rōch΄] n. [Sp cucaracha, wood louse, cockroach, altered by assoc. with COCK1 + ROACH1] any of an order (Blattaria) of insects with long antennae and a flat, soft body: some species are common household pests …   English World dictionary

  • cockroach — 1620s, folk etymology (as if from cock + roach) of Sp. cucaracha chafer, beetle, from cuca kind of caterpillar. Folk etymology also holds that the first element is from caca excrement. A certaine India Bug, called by the Spaniards a Cacarootch,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • cockroach — ► NOUN ▪ a beetle like scavenging insect with long antennae and legs, some kinds of which are household pests. ORIGIN Spanish cucaracha …   English terms dictionary

  • Cockroach — For other uses, see Cockroach (disambiguation). Cockroach Common household roaches A) German cockroach B) American cockroach C) Australian cockroach D E) Oriental cockroach (♀ & …   Wikipedia

  • cockroach — /kok rohch /, n. any of numerous orthopterous insects of the family Blattidae, characterized by a flattened body, rapid movements, and nocturnal habits and including several common household pests. Also called roach. Cf. American cockroach,… …   Universalium

  • cockroach — noun a) A black or brown straight winged insect of the order Blattodea, with about 3,500 species divided into six families. Only a few of these take up residence with human beings. Among these are Periplaneta americana (American cockroach or… …   Wiktionary

  • cockroach — noun Etymology: by folk etymology from Spanish cucaracha cockroach Date: 1623 any of an order or suborder (Blattodea syn. Blattaria) of chiefly nocturnal insects including some that are domestic pests compare German cockroach …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cockroach — [17] Cockroach is a product of folk etymology, the process by which a ‘foreign’ – sounding is adapted by speakers of a language so as to seem more familiar. In this case the foreign word was Spanish cucaracha. This was evidently too much for 17th …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • cockroach — UK [ˈkɒkrəʊtʃ] / US [ˈkɑkˌroʊtʃ] noun [countable] Word forms cockroach : singular cockroach plural cockroaches an insect similar to a large beetle that lives in places where food is kept …   English dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.