early 14c., porpas, from Old French porpais (12c.) "porpoise," literally "pig fish," from porc "pig, swine" (from Latin porcus "pig," from PIE root *porko- "young pig") + peis "fish," from Latin piscis "fish" (from PIE root *pisk- "a fish").
The Old French word probably is a loan-translation of a Germanic word meaning literally "sea-hog, mere-swine," such as Old Norse mar-svin, Old High German meri-swin, Middle Dutch mereswijn "porpoise" (the last of which also was borrowed directly into French and became Modern French marsouin).
Classical Latin had a similar name, porculus marinus (in Pliny), and the notion behind the name likely is a fancied resemblance of the snout to that of a pig.
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