Words related to puck
"to push or thrust against, to prod," especially with something long or pointed, c. 1300, puken, poken "to poke, nudge," a word of obscure origin, perhaps from or related to Middle Dutch poken "to poke" (Dutch beuken), or Middle Low German poken "to stick with a knife" (compare German pochen "to knock, rap"), implying a Proto-Germanic root *puk-, perhaps imitative. Related: Poked; poking.
To poke around "search" is from 1809; to poke along "advance lazily; walk at a leisurely pace" is from 1833. The sense evolution there might be via the notion of "grope, search, feel, or push one's way in or as in the dark;" poke meaning "work in a desultory, ineffective way" is attested from 1796, and poking "pottering" is by 1769. To poke fun "tease" is attested by 1811.
When I told her I had drawn the ten thousand dollar prize in the lottery, she said I wanted to poke fun into her, which you see was no such thing. [Boston Review, February 1811, quoting from a humorous pamphlet on the U.S. Bank by "Abimelech Coody, Esq., ladies' shoemaker"]
1560s, a general term of endearment (also puggy), perhaps related to or a variant of puck (n.2); one of the earliest senses of pug is "sprite, imp" (1610s). The sense of "miniature dog" is from 1749 (pug-dog); that of "monkey" is from 1660s, perhaps on the notion of having a pert, ugly face like a little imp.
In John Milesius any man may reade
Of divels in Sarmatia honored
Call'd Kottri or Kibaldi ; such as wee
Pugs and hobgoblins call. Their dwellings bee
In corners of old houses least frequented,
Or beneath stacks of wood ; and these convented
Make fearfull noise in buttries and in dairies,
Robin good-fellowes some, some call them fairies.
[Thomas Heywood, "Hierarchie of the Blessed Angells," 1635]
The word, or identical words, at various times also meant "a husk of grain" (mid-15c.), "a bargeman" (1590s), "a harlot" (c. 1600), and "an upper servant in a great house" (1843), the last, if it is authentic, perhaps with a suggestion of "lap dog."
"I've seen him, father," said Nelly with a consequential air, "the day I was up at Fairfield Court; he came into Pug's Hole while the old lady was talking to me." For the benefit of the unlearned it should be mentioned that the under-servants "in respectable families" call upper-servants "Pugs;" and that the housekeeper's room is designated as "Pug's Hole." [F.E. Paget, "Warden of Berkingholt," 1843]
"insect, beetle," 1620s (earliest reference is to bedbugs), of unknown origin, probably (but not certainly) from or influenced by Middle English bugge "something frightening, scarecrow" (late 14c.), a word or meaning that has become obsolete since the "insect" sense arose, except in bugbear (1570s) and bugaboo (q.v.).
The Middle English word probably is connected with Scottish bogill "goblin, bugbear," or obsolete Welsh bwg "ghost, goblin" (compare Welsh bwgwl "threat," earlier "fear," Middle Irish bocanách "supernatural being"). Some speculate that these words are from a root meaning "goat" (see buck (n.1)) and represent originally a goat-like specter. Compare also bogey (n.1) and Puck. Middle English Compendium compares Low German bögge, böggel-mann "goblin." The sense shift perhaps was by influence of Old English -budda, used in compounds for "beetle" (compare Low German budde "louse, grub," Middle Low German buddech "thick, swollen").
The name of bug is given in a secondary sense to insects considered as an object of disgust and horror, and in modern English is appropriated to the noisome inhabitants of our beds, but in America is used as the general appellation of the beetle tribe .... A similar application of the word signifying an object dread to creeping things is very common. [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]
The meaning "defect in a machine" (1889) may have been coined c. 1878 by Thomas Edison (perhaps with the notion of an insect getting into the works). In compounds, the meaning "person obsessed by an idea" (as in firebug "arsonist") is from 1841, perhaps from notion of persistence. The colloquial sense of "microbe, germ" is from 1919.
Bugs "crazy" is from c. 1900. Bug juice as a slang name for drink is from 1869, originally "bad whiskey." The 1811 slang dictionary has bug-hunter "an upholsterer." Bug-word "word or words meant to irritate and vex" is from 1560s.