From Middle English attercoppe, from Old English ātorcoppe (spider) (> Old Danish etærkop, ederkoppæ > Danish edderkop (spider)), corresponding to atter (poison, venom) +‎ cop (spider). The latter is still to be found in the English word cobweb. Cognate to Dutch etterkop (peevish or ill-natured person).



attercop (plural attercops)

  1. (obsolete, except in dialects) A spider.
    • 1924, Robert Graves, “Attercop: the All-Wise Spider”:
      Myself, not bound by James’ view
      Nor Walter’s, in a vision saw these two
      Like trapped and weakening flies
      In toils of the same hoary net;
      I seemed to hear ancestral cries
      Buzzing ‘To our All-Wise, Omnivorous
      Attercop glowering over us,
      Whose table we have set
      With blood and bones and sweat.’
    • 1937, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit:
      Old fat spider spinning in a tree!
      Old fat spider can’t see me!
      Attercop! Attercop!
      Won’t you stop,
      Stop your spinning and look for me?
  2. (obsolete, except in dialects) A peevish or ill-natured person.