late 14c., cantaride, type of beetle (the "Spanish fly"), especially as dried, ground up, and used medicinally to raise blisters, from Latin plural of cantharis, from Greek kantharis "blister-fly, a kind of beetle." Beekes says this is a derivative of kantharos, also the name of a kind of beetle, for which there is no good etymology. Their use (taken internally) as a sexual stimulant is attested by c. 1600. Related: Cantharic.
updated on October 09, 2017