polyp (n.)
c. 1400, "nasal tumor,"
from Middle French polype and
directly from Latin polypus "cuttlefish," also "nasal tumor,"
from Greek (Doric, Aeolic) polypos "octopus, cuttlefish,"
from polys "many" (from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill") + pous "foot" (from PIE root *ped- "foot"). Etymological sense revived 1742 as a name for hydras and sea anemones (earlier polypus, early 16c.). The Latin word is the source of French poulpe "octopus."

To me, nasal tumours do not resemble octopodes or cuttlefish?

1 Answer 1


I am no physician, so take this with a grain of salt.

A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue which may produce narrow elongated stalks. These stalks give a good reason to describe it as "many-leg", which is what polyp means as you describe. Polyps are common in the nose, but polyp is not synonymous with nasal tumor. It can be regarded as a subclass of nasal tumors, but I believe polyps are found elsewhere, too. Perhaps the earliest known occurrences were in the nasal area; that would explain it meaning only a nasal tumor centuries ago. Most of the nasal tumors Google shows you are not polyps at all. (I'm not sure if a polyp is classified as a tumor, but that doesn't really matter.)

As a side note, polyp is also an animal. It also has a multi-legged appearance.

Conclusion: Anything that looks like it has many legs can reasonably be called a polyp. There is a nasal tumor with this appearance and hence this name, but this is not the type of nasal tumors.

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