|A rather dashing caterpillar indeed|
(photo by Tinkerbrad)
Noun. Late Middle English.
[Perhaps from Anglo-Norman variant of Old French chatepelose literally 'hairy cat', influenced by obsolete PILLER 'ravager'.]
1 The larva of a butterfly or moth;
loosely any of the similar larvae of various insects. LME
2 figurative. A rapacious person; one who preys on society. Now rare or obsolete. M16
3 singular & (usually) in plural. Any of several Mediterranean plants of the leguminous genus Scorpiurus,
with spirally curved pods. Also caterpillar plant. L16
4 (Also capitalised as Caterpillar) (Proprietary name for) a vehicle with an endless articulated steel band
(Caterpillar track, Caterpillar tread, etc.) passing round and worked by two wheels, for travelling on rough ground. E20
|As well as being voracious eaters, caterpillars are voracious readers too|
(photo by John Proctor)
Caterpillar - probably from Old French chatepelose which means 'hairy cat'. Granted, some caterpillars are jolly hairy, but one wonders if the numbnuts that named them had ever actually seen a cat. Or a caterpillar. Bizarrely, this catty comparison exists in other languages too - in Swiss German a caterpillar is a Teufelskatz, which literally means 'devil's cat'.
Oh, hang on a second ... if I really squint ... and look at it when it's kind of dark ... no ... nope ... definitely not. I'm sorry, but a caterpillar looks absolutely nothing like a cat. Still, catlike or not (and they're not), caterpillars do metamorphose into breathtakingly beautiful butterflies, one of the most miraculous and awe-inspiring transformations in the natural world, so one can't hold too much against them (but, seriously, be careful about holding them, as they're often poisonous).
|Oh here's one that looks like a cat! Oh no wait. It doesn't. At all.|
(photo by Mike Baird)
What's 'caterpillar' in your language?
Can you see the hairy cat?
Do please cater your pillar in the comment box below.