One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An insect of the genus Termes, which originally included all termites but is now restricted to a small number of tropical species; (in form Termes) the genus itself.
Late 18th century. From scientific Latin Termes, genus name (Linnaeus Systema naturae (ed. 10, 1758) 609) from post-classical Latin termes (plural termites) woodworm, maggot, variant (probably influenced by terere: see below) of classical Latin tarmes from the base of terere to rub + the base of -mus, suffix forming nouns and adjectives.
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