: a genus of large, grayish-brown beelike botflies (family Oestridae) with larvae parasitic in the nostrils and pharyngeal cavity of members of the deer family

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, from Greek kēphḗn "drone" (perhaps a derivative of *kēphós, going back to *kāphós, in presumed ablaut relationship with kōphós "blunt, dull, mute, dumb") + New Latin -e- (probably erroneously for -o- -o-) + -myia -myia

Note: Genus name introduced by the French entomologist Pierre André Latreille (1762-1833) in Nouveau dictionnaire d'histoire naturelle, nouvelle édition, tome 23 (Paris, 1818), p. 271. Latreille's own translation of his introduced name as mouche-bourdon (literally, "fly-bumblebee") suggests that he misunderstood the meaning of Greek kēphḗn, or perhaps identified it with French faux bourdon, "drone," literally, "false bumblebee." This misunderstanding was perpetuated in Louis Agassiz, et al., Nomenclator zoologicus (1846), in which the editors give the Greek element kēphḗn in Cephenemyia the Latin translation bombus, "bumblebee" (in classical Latin, "buzzing"). In the index to Nomenclator zoologicus, the name is regularized to Cephenomyia, a variant that has occasionally been used since Agassiz. The relation of kēphḗn to kōphós (which itself has no Indo-European etymology) is suggested hesitantly by both Chantraine (Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque) and Beekes (Etymological Dictionary of Greek); Beekes notes that "the chances are high that the word is Pre-Greek [i.e., belonging to a non-Indo-European substratum]."

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Cite this Entry

“Cephenemyia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Cephenemyia. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

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