One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: any of various, probably chiefly aquatic, gastropod molluscs. Later: specifically any mollusc of the genus Nerita, comprising tropical marine prosobranch gastropods with a thick shell, a short or flattened spire, and a semicircular aperture.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. From post-classical Latin nerita (dubious reading in some editions of Pliny: see note) from ancient Greek νηρίτης, νηρείτης any of several kinds of sea-snail from Νηρεύς + -ίτης.
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