Definitions

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A spider.
  • n. A peevish or ill-natured person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A spider.
  • n. A peevish, ill-natured person.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A spider.
  • n. Figuratively, a peevish, testy, ill-natured person.

Etymologies

From Middle English, from Old English ātorcoppe ("spider"), corresponding to atter (“poison, venom”) +‎ cop (“spider”). The latter is still to be found in the English word cobweb. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Not yet on the list but I must borrow / buy: The Ring of Words, by three senior editors of the OED, who talk about Tolkien's contributions to the Dictionary and rather more interestingly to me about certain individual words used in Tolkien's fiction attercop, hobbit, Smeagol, and more.

    Plenty books..... ah, books....

  • In my native Lancashire dialect an attercop is a spider: it can be found in modern Danish also as edderkop.

    VERBATIM: The Language Quarterly Vol XIV No 4

  • a spider an ‘attercop’ -- a word, by the way, still in popular use in the

    English Past and Present

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • According to "The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary", the suffix "-cop" actually just means "spider" in Old English and is a divergent form related to "cob", as in the compound word "cobweb" - literally "spider web" - which dates as far back as 1300.

    Tolkien also uses "attercop" in his poem "Errantry" in the lovely alliterative lines,

    "...tarried for a little while
    in little isles, and plundered them;
    and webs of all the attercops
    he shattered them and sundered them."

    January 16, 2011

  • A peevish ill-natured person (used in northern Yorkshire); spider (from old english - it's also used in the Hobbit. In old english "attor" means poison and "cop" means head. In modern Norwegian a spider is called edderkopp)

    December 24, 2008