What is the origin of the term minibeasts?

Growing up in the UK I never heard the term, but recently I have heard it prolifically used in preschool education and children's television programmes.


Minibeast or "Minibeasts" is a term for a variety of arthropods and other invertebrates, including spiders, ants, butterflies, bees, wasps, flies, woodlice 1, and many others. The United Kingdom-based Young People's Charitable Trust defines them as "small animals" in a factsheet written for young readers [2]. There is a "Minibeast Zooseum" in Michigan dedicated to invertebrates[3].Minibeasts, as indicated by their name, are generally 'mini' or small.

The study of minibeasts is common as part of the primary school curriculum. Studying minibeasts is a very effective way to observe many biological concepts first hand, which is not possible with many larger animals. Life cycles, food chains, and bodily structure and function are just some of the basic elements of biological science which can be easily explained using minibeasts. "Bugs Alive!" at Melbourne Museum features a huge number of live minibeasts with detailed information about them, while services such as "Minibeast Wildlife" [4] and "Travelbugs" [5] take live minibeast to schools and provide educational resources.

Source: Wiki

The term has become very popular since 1980 as shown on Ngram, apparently with the educational trend developed in those years.

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    I wouldn't say it's all that popular - if I add "arthropod" to your NGram, it totally flatlines. And to be honest I'd hardly have said even arthropod was a particularly popular word. But it's worth noting that of the four capitalisation/pluralisation permutations, you chose to graph the least common (the most common is plural, no capitalisation). – FumbleFingers Apr 24 '14 at 21:08
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    As OP noticed,the term it is widely used in preschool education and children's TV programmes, but, I guess, totally unknown to those not involved in those specific contexts. As for NGram; what is interesting is that it shows that the term has become popular since the 80's with the introduction of the subject in primary schools. I am not sure that a comparison with arthropod is really meaningful, a term which is much older and used in different contexts with respect to minibeast. – user66974 Apr 24 '14 at 21:36
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    I only chose arthropod because it was the first word I saw when casting about looking for a term that most children probably wouldn't know. I'd never noticed the term until now - but even without context it's pretty obvious what it's likely to "mean". What I don't understand is why OP has accepted this answer - firstly, it's almost entirely a cut&pasted Wikipedia entry, and secondly, it doesn't actually address the question "What is the origin?". But I guess if OP is happy, why should I complain? – FumbleFingers Apr 24 '14 at 22:11
  • I accepted it because I am quite new to the English site and found the NGram thing very interesting. I once asked another question on here which had links to other interesting online etymology tools but it was closed (so the tool links are gone). :( – Mark McLaren Apr 24 '14 at 22:28
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    In my day we called them "creepy crawlies". – Mark McLaren Apr 25 '14 at 7:36

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