Etymology
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mussel (n.)

"edible bivalve mollusk," Middle English muscle, from Old English muscle, musscel, from Late Latin muscula (source of Old French musle, Modern French moule, Middle Dutch mosscele, Dutch mossel, Old High German muscula, German Muschel), from Latin musculus "mussel," literally "little mouse," also "muscle;" like muscle, derived from mus "mouse" on the perceived similarity of size and shape (see mouse (n.)). The modern spelling, distinguishing the word from muscle, is recorded from c. 1600 but was not fully established until 1870s.

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murex (n.)

kind of shellfish which yields a purple dye, 1580s, from Latin murex (plural murices) "purple fish, purple dye," probably cognate with Greek myax "sea mussel," a word of unknown origin, perhaps related to mys "mouse" (see muscle (n.) and mussel).

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cockle (n.1)

type of edible European mollusk, early 14c., from Old French coquille (13c.) "scallop, scallop shell; mother of pearl; a kind of hat," altered (by influence of coque "shell") from Vulgar Latin *conchilia, from Latin conchylium "mussel, shellfish," from Greek konkhylion "little shellfish," from konkhē "mussel, conch." Phrase cockles of the heart "inmost recesses of one's spirit" (1660s) is perhaps from similar shape, or from Latin corculum, diminutive of cor "heart." Cockle-shell attested from early 15c.

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neritic (adj.)

"pertaining to or inhabiting water bordering coasts, down to 100 fathoms," 1891, from German neritisch (Haeckel, 1890), perhaps from Nerita, a genus of mollusks, from Greek nēritēs "sea-mussel," from Nērus, the sea-god (see Nereid). Compare benthos.

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cochlea (n.)

"spiral cavity of the inner ear of most vertebrate animals," 1680s, from Latin cochlea "snail shell," from Greek kokhlias "snail, screw," etc., from kokhlos "shell-fish with a spiral shell, sea-snail, land-snail," ("For the most part a generic word" — Thompson) which is perhaps related to konkhos "mussel, conch." Related: Cochlear.

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conch (n.)

"large sea-shell," originally of bivalves, early 15c., from Latin concha "shellfish, mollusk," from Greek konkhē "mussel, cockle," also metaphoric of shell-like objects ("hollow of the ear; knee-cap; brain-pan; case round a seal; knob of a shield," etc.), from PIE root *konkho- (source also of Sanskrit sankha- "mussel") or else from a Pre-Greek word.

Since 18c. used of large gastropods. As a name for natives of Florida Keys (originally especially poor whites) it is attested from at least 1833, from their use of the flesh of the conch as food; the preferred pronunciation there ("kongk") preserves the classical one. Related: Conchate; conchiform; conchoidal.

The white Americans form a comparatively small proportion of the population of Key West, the remainder being Bahama negroes, Cuban refugees, and white natives of the Bahamas and their descendants, classified here under the general title of Conchs. [Circular No. 8, U.S. War Dept., May 1, 1875]
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periwinkle (n.2)

kind of sea snail, 1520s, apparently an alteration of Old English pinewincle (probably by influence of Middle English parvink; see periwinkle (n.1)); from Old English pine-, which probably is from Latin pina "mussel," from Greek pine. The second element is wincel "corner; spiral shell," from Proto-Germanic *winkil-, from PIE root *weng- "to bend, curve" (see wink (v.)). But no Middle English forms have been found.

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horseradish (n.)

also horse-radish, 1590s, Cochlearia armoricia; the common name preserves the once-common figurative adjectival sense of horse as "strong, large, coarse," as in in obsolete horse mushroom (1866), horse-balm (1808), horse parsley, horse-mussel, Old English horsminte "horse mint." The "London Encyclopaedia" (1829) has horse emmet for a large kind of ant and horse marten "a kind of large bee." Also see radish.

Some nations have used the word bull as an augmentative; the English use the word horse, this being no doubt the largest animal of their acquaintance before the southern breeds of oxen were introduced.
[The Annual Review, London, 1804]
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*skel- (1)
also *kel-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut."

It forms all or part of: coulter; cutlass; half; halve; scale (n.1) "skin plates on fish or snakes;" scale (n.2) "weighing instrument;" scalene; scallop; scalp; scalpel; school (n.2) "group of fish;" sculpture; shale; sheldrake; shelf; shell; shield; shoal (n.2) "large number;" skoal; skill.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin culter "knife," scalpere "to cut, scrape;" Old Church Slavonic skolika "mussel, shell," Russian skala "rind, bark," Lithuanian skelti "split," Old English scell "shell," scalu "drinking cup, bowl, scale of a balance."
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niche (n.)

1610s, "shallow recess in a wall," from French niche "recess (for a dog), kennel" (14c.), perhaps from Italian nicchia "niche, nook," which is said to be from nicchio "seashell," itself said by Klein, Barnhart, etc. to be probably from Latin mitulus "mussel," but the change of -m- to -n- is not explained (Century Dictionary compares napkin from Latin mappa). Watkins suggests that the word is from an Old French noun derived from nichier "to nestle, nest, build a nest," via Gallo-Roman *nidicare from Latin nidus "nest" (see nidus), but that, too, has difficulties. The figurative sense is recorded by 1725. Biological use dates from 1927.

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