Mushroomesque (mushroomesque) wrote in linguaphiles,

"Daddy long legs" etymology

Can anyone source anything on the origin of the phrase 'daddy long legs'? When did it first appear in the English language, and are there any theories about the 'daddy' part?

Mostly, the Internet sites that talk about it just mention that it refers to three different animals (harvestmen, crane flies and cellar spiders), not anything about where the phrase comes from. Some sites mention the 1912 novel Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster/later productions as plays and films, but that seems far too recent for such everyday animals (and has little to do with insects/arachnids).

Also, does anyone know if there used to be other words used several hundred years ago that were replaced by 'daddy long legs'? Are any words for the three different animals in Germanic languages/Latin similar to the English phrase?

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