One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A noctuid moth, especially one of the genus Noctua (subfamily Noctuinae), which includes the yellow underwings. Now chiefly (in form Noctua): the genus itself.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in William Kirby (1759–1850), entomologist and naturalist. From classical Latin noctua night owl, use as noun of feminine of an unattested adjective from noct-, nox night + -uus, suffix forming adjectives.
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