One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large brown European beetle which flies at dusk and is a destructive plant pest, both as an adult and a larva.
Melolontha melolontha, family ScarabaeidaeAlso called May bug
- ‘At peak abundance, cockchafers reached densities of more than 50 individuals per meter of twig on some fruit trees and on shrubs.’
- ‘What a pleasant change from the labourer's unvarying meal of bread, lard, and bacon would be a good dish of fried cockchafers or grasshoppers!’
Early 18th century: from cock (expressing size or vigour) + chafer.
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