daddy longlegs
Posted: 11 March 2013 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This has always struck me as an unusual name, something a child might make up or that of a character in a fairy tale. It refers to several insects though surely only to one originally.

All I could find online was in MW:

1
chiefly British : crane fly
2
: any of an order (Opiliones) of arachnids that have slender usually long legs and that resemble spiders but have an oval body lacking a constriction —called also harvestman

First Known Use of DADDY LONGLEGS
circa 1814

What does the OED say and how is it known in other languages?

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Posted: 11 March 2013 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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OED:

Etymology:  < its very long slender legs.

For other languages, the simplest thing is to check the left-hand column of the relevant Wikipedia article.

Edit: Hey, I’ve broken 3000!

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Posted: 11 March 2013 05:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Not a spider for this Scot.

For us it was a kind of fly, no idea of latin name but looked a bit like a huge mosquito (sans sting), very lightweight… er, and very long legs.

Is this one of the other insects you mentioned but never listed, VB?

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Posted: 11 March 2013 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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In Australia it mostly refers to any of various small spiders with narrow legs, particularly “cellar spiders” (pholcids).

It refers to several insects though surely only to one originally.

Well, it refers to several insects and arachnids.

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Posted: 11 March 2013 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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To me, daddy longlegs were always harvestmen.

[East Coast, USA, New England, 1955 et seq.]

I considered that daddy longlegs were a variety of spiders.

They collected in the eaves of low buildings and houses.

When, as a youth, I captured them, they emitted a smell that was aromatic and unpleasant.

.

I know of crane flies.

They are sometimes called “mosquito hawks” in Leftpondia, and look startlingly like giant mosquitoes.

.

[as BlackGrey intimated above]

[ Edited: 11 March 2013 07:40 PM by sobiest ]
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Posted: 12 March 2013 01:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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BlackGrey - 11 March 2013 05:25 PM

Not a spider for this Scot.

For us it was a kind of fly, no idea of latin name but looked a bit like a huge mosquito (sans sting), very lightweight… er, and very long legs.

Is this one of the other insects you mentioned but never listed, VB?

That’s the crane fly.

Crane flies were also daddy longlegs in the south east of England where I was as a child. Back in Scotland where I live now, I’ve heard daddy longlegs applied both to crane flies and confusingly also to harvestmen (which are arachnids, so have two more legs).

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Posted: 12 March 2013 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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That reminds me of another term for certain types of arachnid, the money spider. Can I take it from the OED entry that both the term and its accompanying superstition are confined to the UK?

money spider, n.

Any of various usually small spiders that are traditionally supposed to bring financial good luck to a person over whom they crawl; esp. any tiny black spider of the large family Linyphiidae (in the United States called dwarf spider).

1858 A. Mayhew Paved with Gold 26 Huge bales dangling, like monster money-spiders from a thread.
1875 J. C. Melliss St. Helena 217 Salticus nigrolimbatus, Cambr.—The large black and white ‘Fly-catcher’ or ‘Money-spider’, as it is commonly called.
1958 W. S. Bristowe World of Spiders i. 4 Most people..hate large House Spiders (Tegenaria) in their homes but welcome tiny Money Spiders (Linyphiidae) on their clothes in the country.
1975 ‘J. Lymington’ Spider in Bath i. 15 He..looked at the back of his hand. ‘Well, that should be lucky, anyway. A money spider. I might win the pools this week.’
1991 Times 10 Aug. 12/1 A male money spider robertus insignis which is only 2–3mm long, was found by Deborah Proctor in a low lying sedge bed.

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Posted: 12 March 2013 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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DARE has an entry for money-spinner, with a citation going back to 1884 (Pennsylvania) and a later citation that explains the superstition.

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Posted: 13 March 2013 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I thought the “daddy” part interesting and was hoping for a citation or two but hey. The longlegs part seems obvious now LH has pointed it out, durr. And literal translations from other languages not just your actual word, durr.
Hooiwagens in Dutch means hay-wagon. I’m not looking any others up using translation sites. I’d hoped bilinguals might chip in but it looks like we’ll never know the literal Russian.

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Posted: 14 March 2013 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Following venomousbede’s latest posting, I have been looking into the taxonomy of daddy-longlegs and related insects, and almost wish I hadn’t. My head is still buzzing with all those Latin names……..in Spanish, the term zancudo is colloquially applied to all the related families of long-legged diptera, including both Tipulidae (daddy-long -legs) and Culicidae (true mosquitoes). Zancudo means “one equipped with stilts” (zancos are stilts). Wikipedia says the common terms used are mosca grúa (crane fly)* or simply mosquito gigantesco.  It adds, as a throwaway (how I love Wikipedia!), that in the Principality of Asturias these ungainly,totally harmless creatures are called sacagüeros. The latter (obviously dialect) word does not appear in the RAE.

* In Spanish, the word grúa refers ordinarily only to the mechanical device, the word for the wading bird being grulla. I don’t know if this has always been so - I have always supposed that in English, both the machine and the insect got their name from a resemblance to the bird. --- In French, of course, the word grue has three different meanings. I wonder why. what are those Frenchmen up to?.

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Posted: 15 March 2013 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Good stuff…

And thanks to Dr F for the name of the fly I couldn’t remember.

I actually always considered the ‘crane’ of ‘crane fly’ some OE leftover for something so obscure nowadays we had lost the meaning, like some village with a quaint name you have to ask about.

Didn’t ever occur to me it was just a bleedin’ dead normal crane, lifting for the, of.

BTW, I love crane flies because once you realise it is one, you know it definitely isn’t a mozzy!

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Posted: 16 March 2013 12:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Why the name “harvestmen”, I wonder?

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Posted: 16 March 2013 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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ElizaD - 16 March 2013 12:58 AM

Why the name “harvestmen”, I wonder?

HARVESTER, Harvest-Spider, or Harvest-Man, names given to Arachnids of the order Opiliones, referable to various species of the family Phalangiidae. Harvest-spiders or harvest-men, so-called on account of their abundance in the late summer and early autumn, may be at once distinguished from all true spiders by the extreme length and thinness of their legs, and by the small size and spherical or oval shape of the body, which is not divided by a waist or constriction into an anterior and a posterior region....

from: 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13

The order name is “Opiliones”:


...The Swedish naturalist and arachnologist Carl Jakob Sundevall (1801–1875) honored the naturalist Martin Lister (1638–1712) by adopting his term Opiliones for this order; Lister characterized three species from England, United Kingdom (although not formally describing them, being a pre-Linnean work)....

from: Wikipedia

from the Latin ‘opilio’ shepherd:

Opiliones are commonly called shepherd spiders, harvest spiders or harvestmen. ‘Opilio’ in Latin means shepherd and the name is probably derived from the fact that in earlier times, European shepherds sometimes walked on stilts to observe their flocks better and Opiliones look as if they are on stilts when walking....

from: biodiversityexplorer.org

.

Edit: A possibly more definitive etymological cite may be from Harvestmen: Keys and Notes for the Identification of the Species, by Paul D. Hillyard and John H. P. Sankey, 1989, p. 2.

[ Edited: 16 March 2013 08:08 AM by sobiest ]
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