Old English gnæt "gnat, midge, small flying insect," earlier gneat, from Proto-Germanic *gnattaz (source also of Low German gnatte, German Gnitze); perhaps literally "biting insect" and related to gnaw.
The gnatte is a litil fflye, and hatte culex he soukeþ blood and haþ in his mouþ a pipe, as hit were a pricke. And is a-countid a-mong volatiles and greueþ slepinge men wiþ noyse & wiþ bytinge and wakeþ hem of here reste. [Bartholomew Glanville, "De proprietatibus rerum," c. 1240, translated by John of Trevisa c. 1398 ]
Gnat-catcher, insectivorous bird of the U.S. woodlands, is from 1823.
a popular name for a tiny two-winged fly, applied indiscriminately to many small insects, Old English mygg, mycg "gnat," from Proto-Germanic *mugjon (source also of Swedish mygga, Old Saxon muggia, Middle Dutch mugghe, Dutch mug, Old High German mucka, German Mücke "midge, gnat"). No certain cognates beyond Germanic, unless doubtful Armenian mun "gnat" and Albanian mize "gnat" are counted. Watkins, Klein and others suggest an imitative root used for various humming insects and a relationship to Latin musca "fly" (see mosquito). Meaning "diminutive person" is from 1796.
name given to gnat-like insects the females of which bite animals and draw blood through a piercing and sucking proboscis, 1580s, from Spanish mosquito "little gnat," diminutive of mosca "fly," from Latin musca "fly," from PIE root *mu- "gnat, fly" (compare Sanskrit maksa-, Greek myia, Old English mycg, Modern English midge, Old Church Slavonic mucha), perhaps imitative of the sound of humming insects. Related: Mosquital. Mosquito-hawk as a name for a kind of dragon-fly which preys on mosquitoes is from 1737. Mosquito-net "gauze or other fabric used as a screen against mosquitoes" is from 1745.
"suspended covering serving as protection or shelter," late 14c., canope, from Old French conope "bed-curtain" (Modern French canapé), from Medieval Latin canopeum, a dissimilatiion of Latin conopeum "mosquito curtain,"from Greek konopeion "Egyptian couch with mosquito curtains," from konops "mosquito, gnat," which is of unknown origin; perhaps from Egyptian hams (with a hard "h") "gnat," and altered in Greek by folk-etymology.
The same word (canape) in French, Spanish, and Portuguese has taken the other part of the Greek sense and now means "sofa, couch." Italian canape is a French loan word.
1580s (earlier buffel, 1510s, from French), from Portuguese bufalo "water buffalo," from Medieval Latin bufalus, variant of Latin bubalus "wild ox," from Greek boubalos "buffalo," originally the name of a kind of African antelope, later used of a type of domesticated ox in southern Asia and the Mediterranean lands, a word of uncertain origin. It appears to contain bous "ox, cow" (from PIE root *gwou- "ox, bull, cow"), but this is perhaps a folk-etymology association.
Wrongly applied since 1630s to the American bison. The other Germanic words (Dutch buffel, German Büffel, Danish böffel, etc.) are from French; from Medieval Latin come Russian buivolu, Polish bujwoł, Bulgarian bivol, etc. Buffalo gnat is recorded from 1822. Buffalo chip "dung of the American bison," used for fuel on the U.S. plains, is from 1840.
Old English wurm, variant of wyrm "serpent, snake, dragon, reptile," also in later Old English "earthworm," from Proto-Germanic *wurmiz (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German, German wurm, Old Frisian and Dutch worm, Old Norse ormr, Gothic waurms "serpent, worm"), from PIE *wrmi- "worm" (source also of Greek rhomos, Latin vermis "worm," Old Russian vermie "insects," Lithuanian varmas "insect, gnat"), from PIE *wrmi- "worm," from root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend."
The ancient category of these was much more extensive than the modern, scientific, one and included serpents, scorpions, maggots, and the supposed causes of certain diseases. For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come. As an insult meaning "abject, miserable person" it dates from Old English. Worms "any disease arising from the presence of parasitic worms" is from late Old English. Can of worms figurative for "difficult problem" is from 1951, from the literal can of worms a fisherman might bring with him, on the image of something all tangled up.