Etymology: Stork

deriving from the Greek for 'true' (eteos/etymos) and 'word' (logos)

Curious about the origin of a word or term? Send it to us and we shall go forth and investigate.

stork with baby silhouetteWe all know that storks bring babies, at least in myth. But why did that belief arise? 

A common suggestion is that the return of these migratory birds to Europe in spring coincided with the peak birth months for the local people. But linguist David Crystal reports another suggestion – an etymological one – in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.

So let's look at the word stork.

Storc in Old English came from the same Proto-Germanic source as Storch in German and storah in Old High German. In German the word meant 'stick', probably because the birds stand so straight and tall. But the word was also used to describe other things that stand erect, including 'the male appendage (des Mannes Storch)'. So, the whole storks and babies story could simply be a double entendre!

Margie Beilharz