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.
"nocturnal lepidopterous insect," Middle English motthe, from Old English moððe (Northumbrian mohðe), a common Germanic word (compare Old Norse motti, Middle Dutch motte, Dutch mot, German Motte "moth"), perhaps related to Old English maða "maggot," or perhaps from the root of midge (q.v.). Until 16c. the word was used mostly of the larva and usually in reference to devouring woolen fabrics (see Matthew vi.20). Words for the adult moth in Middle English included flindre (mid-14c.), which is cognate with Dutch vlinder "butterfly." Moth-eaten is attested from late 14c.
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.
as a type of tiny biting insect, 1839, American English, from midge, perhaps with diminutive suffix -et.
Dr. Webster is in error in saying the word "midge" is "not in use" at the present day. In the neighboring Green mountain districts, one or more most annoying species of Simulium that there abound, are daily designated in common conversation as the midges, or, as the name is often corrupted, the midgets. From Dr. Harris' treatise it appears that the same name is in popular use for the same insects in Maine. The term is limited in this country, we believe, exclusively to those minute insects, smaller than the musketoe, which suck the blood of other animals. ["Transactions of the New-York State Agricultural Society," vol. vi, Albany, 1847]
Transferred sense of "very small person" is attested by 1854. It is also noted mid-19c. as a pet form of Margaret.
"firearm for infantry" (later replaced by the rifle), 1580s, from French mousquette, also the name of a kind of sparrow-hawk, diminutive of mosca "a fly," from Latin musca (see midge). The hawk so called either for its size or because it looks speckled when in flight.
Early firearms often were given names of beasts (compare dragoon, also falcon, a kind of cannon mentioned by Hakluyt), and the equivalent word in Italian was used to mean "an arrow for a crossbow." Wedgwood also compares culverin, a simple early sort of firearm, from French couleuvrine, from couleuvre "grass snake."
French mousquette had been borrowed earlier into Middle English (late 14c.; c. 1200 as a surname) in its literal sense of "sparrow-hawk."
fem. proper name, Old English Mildðryð, from milde "mild" (see mild) + ðryð "power, strength" (see Audrey). A popular name in the Middle Ages through fame of St. Mildred (obit c. 700), abbess, daughter of a Mercian king and a Kentish princess. Familiar forms include Milly, Midge. Among the 10 most popular names for girls born in the U.S. between 1903 and 1926, it hasn't been in the top 1,000 since 1983.
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.