One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A predatory aquatic bug of the genus Notonecta (family Notonectidae), which swims on its back propelled by its long back legs; a backswimmer.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Rowland (fl. c1658). In some forms from post-classical Latin notonectum from noto- + Hellenistic Greek νήκτης swimmer. In β form from scientific Latin Notonecta, alteration of post-classical Latin Notonectum.
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