The word cobweb was first used in 1323, when it was spelled coppe-webbe (the p became a b due to influence from cob, another word meaning "lump"). This hyphenated form reflects how the word was created: out of coppe, an archaic term for "spider", and web, which had the same meaning as today. Coppe was a clipping of a previous word for "spider", atorcoppe, and that literally meant "venom-head". The first part, ator, comes from a Proto-Germanic word meaning "ulcer", and the second part, coppe, could also mean "summit" or "top". It hails from Proto-Germanic kuppaz, or "vault", and that ultimately derives from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction gu, "to bend". Web experienced very little change throughout history, tracing to PIE webh, meaning "to weave".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.