1907 as a breed of dog, from French papillon, literally "butterfly," from Latin papilionem (nominative papilio) "butterfly," which is perhaps from a reduplicated form of a PIE root *pl- "to fly, flutter." The Latin word is believed to be cognate with Old English fifealde, Old Saxon fifoldara, Old Norse fifrildi, Old High German vivaltra, German Falter "butterfly;" Old Prussian penpalo, Lithuanian piepala, Russian perepel "quail." The dog was so called for the shape of the ears. Middle English had papilloun "a butterfly," from Old French.
updated on January 21, 2020