Definitions

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Achrysomelid beetle, the notorious Doryphora decemlineata, which up to 1855 or 1856 lived in the Rocky Mountain region, feeding upon the wild Solanum rostratum, but which, as the cultivated potato reached its habitat, increased enormously and began to spread to the east.
  • n. A meloid beetle, Epicauta vittata. Also called the old-fashioned potato-beetle.

Etymologies

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  • Exactly. It says so right on the label.

    May 11, 2010

  • It's part potato, part beetle, and 100% neither!

    May 5, 2010

  • Damn Anglo-Saxons.

    May 5, 2010

  • "The Anglo-Saxon word byotal, more usually written bytl is represented in our modern English as beetle, a wooden hammer used for beating clothes."

    -Anglo-Saxon and Old English vocabularies, Volume 1, by Thomas Wright

    May 5, 2010

  • ... wouldn't that be better spelled beatle?

    AH-HUH! AH-HUH-HUH!! < -- upper-class twit laugh.

    Damn Victorians.

    May 4, 2010

  • Potato masher. Beetle in the verb sense "to pound", "smash", "beat", etc.

    May 4, 2010

  • But that's just it! This usage doesn't describe a bug at all, but some kind of kitchen tool. Doesn't anyone else think that's f***ing WEIRD?

    *muttering* Damn Victorians...

    May 4, 2010

  • "Man is bigger than the potato bug and he will master it."
    --Horace Greeley

    May 4, 2010

  • "If the peas are cold, heat the butter and pound the peas smooth with a potato-beetle."
    —Susan Williams, Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 254

    May 4, 2010