Where did Earwhigs get their name from?

The insect, they are rather flat looking light brown with big pinchers.


One thing is certain. Earwigs do not of crawl into people’s ears and bore into their brains. I for one find this to be comforting.

In the UK, earwhigs only attack the left ear. The right ear is a victim of eartories.

The Whigs, an American Political Party, were formed in opposition to Andrew Jackson’s Democrats in 1834. The name was a take off of the British political party, also the Whigs, who were opposition to the Tories, who took their name from the Scottish Whiggamores, who were opposed to King Charles 1 way back in 1648.

What’s this got to do with bugs, you ask? Nada, but you’re the one who misspelled it. Anyway, the word earwig comes out of Middle English and Old English (erwigge and erwicga, respectively) which means “ear insect” and comes from the old supersition that they would crawl into your ear at night while you slept.

You know that you can find this kind of stuff in a decent dictionary, right?

Source: Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language

Yes, I am always surprised by the number of threads asking “where does such-and-such a word come from?” Etymological (or entomological, in this case :smiley: ) information is listed in 'most any decent dictionary.

A slight hijack:

There is a local coffee and tea company in St. Louis which is named for its founder, now deceased. He was an avid world traveler and big game hunter, and often liked to show home movies of his trips during the television commercials he narrated.

By most accounts, he was a prince of a fellow, and he was very generous as a philanthropist, so that there are a number of buildings in and around St. Louis named in his honor, including the headquarters of a public broadcasting TV station.

It is also the case, unfortunately, that he was pudgy and bald and bore an unfortunate resemblance to Elmer Fudd.

He believed the old legend about earwigs. I recall that for several years as I sat at breakfast each morning I ran the risk of hearing a coffee commercial which conncluded: “Yeth, wittle does the un-thuth-pecting native supothe that a vich-wish eah-wig is gnawing thwoo his bwain…”

It was remarkably unappetizing for a food commercial.

How many people remember the Night Gallery episode where Laurence Harvey pags a man to slip an earwig into a rival’s ear, only to find that a mistake was made about which room to sneak into and he was infected instead? He suffers intolerable agony, the writer(s) having also overlooked the point that the brain is insensitive to pain.