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From Middle English magotmagotte, probably Anglo-Norman metathetic alteration of maddock (worm”, “maggot), originally a diminutive form of a base represented by Old English maþa (Scots mathe), from Frankish *maþō, from common Proto-Germanic *maþô, from the Proto-Indo-European root *mat, which was used in insect names, equivalent to made +‎ -ock. Near-cognates include Dutch madeGerman Made and Swedish mask.

The use of maggot to mean a fanciful or whimsical thing derives from the folk belief that a whimsical or crotchety person had maggots in his or her brain.


  • enPR: măg’ət, IPA(key)/ˈmæɡət/


maggot (plural maggots)

  1. A soft, legless larva of a fly or other dipterous insect, that often eats decomposing organic matter. [from 15th c.]
  2. (derogatory) A worthless person. [from 17th c.]
    Drop and give me fifty, maggot.
  3. (now archaic, regional) A whimsy or fancy. [from 17th c.]
  4. (slang) A fan of the American metal band Slipknot.
One thought on “Etymology, English, Maggot”
  1. […] Noun. From Middle English mathe, from Old English maþu, maþa (“maggot, worm, grub”), from Proto-Germanic *maþô (“maggot”), from Proto-Indo-European *mot-, *mat- (“worm, grub, caterpillar, moth”). Cognate with Scots mathe, maithe (“maggot”), Dutch made (“maggot”), German Made (“maggot”). More at maggot. […]

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