Ku Klux Klan
Ku-Klux is a variation on the Greek kuklos meaning circle. The Klan is obviously from clan, with the k used for alliterative purposes.
The name dates to 1867 and was chosen by the group’s founders. Their exact reasons for the choice are not known for certain, but a circle implies a secret circle or society, a symbol for continuity, a symbol for perfection, and lots of other mystical imagery. From the Pulaski, Tennessee Citizen of 29 March 1867:
The Kuklux Klan will assemble at their usual place of rendezvous...exactly at the hour of midnight, in costume and bearing the arms of the Klan.
A common folkloric origin is that the name of the group comes from the sound of a gun cocking. This is bunk.
(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition)
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton