One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The European storm petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus. Chiefly recorded in dictionaries.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in George Low (1747–1795), naturalist. Probably from a first element of Norn origin (perhaps meaning ‘squirting out, belching out’) + 19th-cent. Shetland Scots mutti small thing, also storm petrel.
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