The Insect RaceI was aware of ladybird as the British version of ladybug, but I fell to wondering which came first. I finally got around to checking the other day. The Online Etymology Dictionary says, "ladybug (1699; cf. Ger. cognate Marienkäfer) which now is called ladybird beetle (1704) in Britain, through aversion to the word bug, which there has overtones of sodomy."
Ready, steady, off they go!
The beetle's in the lead!
The grasshoppers are gaining,
With a sudden burst of speed.
The worm has turned the corner,
And the crowd begins to clap,
But the spider and the ladybird
Are closing up the gap!
I don't suppose that's the origin of the phrase 'having a bug up your ass'...
Hmmm. A friend of mine who's married to an Englishman says it's because 'bug' means 'bedbug'.
Interesting! I can't find that sense in any British dictionaries, though.
Ha! Maybe her husband just doesn't want to admit it? Or maybe he himself doesn't know why. I can see that - parents don't want to say why "bug" is a bad word so they make up something innocuous and whole generations grow up with a different explanation which they pass on...
I can't see that being true. Bug in English refers specifically to insects that suck blood, sap, etc. The term bug came to refer to insects in general as a colloquial term in the US, but didn't spread to the UK until we were exposed more to American culture in th 20th century.
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