The coccinellid family of insects are known in British English as "ladybirds", in reference to the Virgin Mary who is also referred to in names used in a number of other languages. In Portuguese a popular name for these insects is "joaninhas".

What is the origin of this name?

  • Really good question. I'm looking forward to seeing the answer.
    – bad_coder
    Commented Mar 29, 2020 at 15:54
  • 1
    According to a text in the magazine Língua Portuguesa (Volume 2, Edition 26), the origin is unknown (see here). Unfortunately, it seems that the complete text is not available online
    – Pedro
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 0:07
  • @Pedro, editei o teu link para o reduzir e de lá tirar as informações de tracking, modelo, etc.
    – ANeves
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 16:19

1 Answer 1


I think its etymology is lost in time! It is cognate with galician xoaniña. Someone (galician-portuguese) probably thought it was a good idea to call the insect "Little Joanne".

  • 1
    +1 for spotting the cognate, and because it's with Galician-Portuguese.
    – bad_coder
    Commented Mar 30, 2020 at 8:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.