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Lepidoptera (n.)

order of insects with four scaly wings, 1773, the biological classification that includes butterflies and moths, coined 1735 in Modern Latin by Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (Karl von Linné, 1707-1778) from lepido- "scale" + pteron "wing, feather" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly"). Related: Lepidopteral; lepidopteran; lepidopterous.

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lepidopterist (n.)
"one who studies the Lepidoptera," 1826, from Lepidoptera + -ist. Related: Lepidopterology.
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*pet- 

Also petə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to rush, to fly." 

It forms all or part of: accipiter; appetence; appetite; apterous; apteryx; archaeopteryx; asymptote; centripetal; Coleoptera; compete; competent; eurypterid; feather; helicopter; hippopotamus; Hymenoptera; impetigo; impetuous; impetus; iopterous; Lepidoptera; ornithopter; panache; panne; pen (n.1) "writing implement;" pennon; peripeteia; perpetual; perpetuity; petition; petulance; petulant; pin; pinion; pinnacle; pinnate; pinniped; potamo-; potamology; propitiation; propitious; ptero-; pterodactyl; ptomaine; ptosis; repeat; symptom.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pattram "wing, feather, leaf," patara- "flying, fleeting;" Hittite pittar "wing;" Greek piptein "to fall," potamos "river, rushing water," pteron, pteryx "feather, wing," ptilon "soft feathers, down, plume;" Latin petere "to attack, assail; seek, strive after; ask for, beg; demand, require," penna "feather, wing;" Old Norse fjöðr, Old English feðer "feather;" Old Church Slavonic pero "feather;" Old Welsh eterin "bird."

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