Nobody in Middle English could decide how to standardize the spelling of crocodile, which gave us outlandish variants including cokedrille, kokedrille, cocodrill, cokadrille, and cokedril, until our current spelling won out. All this comes from French cocodril, from Medieval Latin cocodrillus, from regular Latin crocodilus, and finally from Greek krokodilos, which is closer to the modern word than most of its descendants, because crocodile as we know it was kind of conservatively refashioned to look like its Latin and Greek ancestors. This is where the word was created; it makes sense that the Greeks got to name the crocodile first because during the Hellenistic expansions they encountered them in Egypt. Anyway, the animal was named by Herodotus, who combined the words kroke, or "pebbles", and drilos, or "worm". Sadly, further etymologies of both words are obscure and untraceable. However, we learned something interesting nonetheless!
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd