MOTACILLA

(Motacillidae; Ϯ White Wagtail M. alba) Late Med. L. (1555) motacilla  pied wagtail  < L. motacilla  wagtail  < Gr. μυττηξ muttēx  type of bird mentioned by Hesychius. The mistaken use of -cilla ­for “tail” in ornithology goes back to mediaeval writers who misread motacilla, Varro’s name for the wagtail ("quod semper movet caudam") and a diminutive from motare to move about or shake (i.e. a little shaker or wagger), as “shaketail”; "99. MOTACILLA.  Rostrum subulatum, rectum: Mandibulis subæqualibus.  Nares obovatæ.  Lingua lacero-emarginata." (Linnaeus 1758);"Motacilla Linnaeus, 1758, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, p. 184. Type, by tautonymy, "Motacilla" = M. alba Linnaeus." (Vaurie in Peters 1960, IX, 130). Linnaeus's Motacilla comprised thirty-four species (M. Luscinia, M. Calidris, M. modularis, M. Schœnobænus, M. campestris, M. Curruca, M. Hippolais, M. Salicaria, M. Sylvia, M. Philomela, M. Ficedula, M. alba, M. flava, M. Tiphia, M. Ruticilla, M. hispanica, M. Oenanthe, M. Rubetra, M. Atricapilla, M. Emeria, M. Phœnicurus, M. Erithacus, M. Titys, M. svecica, M. Sialis, M. Velia, M. Spiza, M. Rubecula, M. Troglodytes, M. Regulus, M. Trochilus, M. Acredula, M. Pendulinus, M. minuta). The White Wagtail has a wide range in the Palaearctic, although several subspecies are sometimes treated specifically (e.g. yarrellii, subpersonata, personata, lugens).
Var. Matacilla, Metacilla, MotacileaMotacitta, Mottacilla, Montacilla, Notacilla, Notorcilla.
Synon. Aguimpia, Atolmodytes, Boarula, Budytes, Calobates, Pallenura, Pecula, Psomophilus, Seisura.

Search for more names on the Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology by James A. Jobling.
Recommended citation
Jobling, J. A. (2019). Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology. In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2019). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from www.hbw.com on 19 January 2019).