Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. By extension, the term "the etymology (of a word)" means the origin of the particular word.
For a language with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during earlier periods of their history and when they entered the languages in question. Etymologists also apply the methods of comparative linguistics to reconstruct information about languages that are too old for any direct information to be available.
By analyzing related languages with a technique known as the comparative method, linguists can make inferences about their shared parent language and its vocabulary. In this way, word roots have been found that can be traced all the way back to the origin of, for instance, the Indo-European language family.
Even though etymological research originally grew from the philological tradition, currently much etymological research is done on language families where little or no early documentation is available, such as Uralic and Austronesian.
The word etymology is derived from the Greek word , etymologia, itself from , etymon, meaning "true sense", and the suffix -logia, denoting "the study of".
In linguistics, the term etymon is used to refer to a word or morpheme (e.g. stem or root) from which a later word is derived. For example, the Latin word candidus, which means "white", is the etymon of English candid.
Etymology is an audio source library recorded in 1995 by Skeleton Crew. It was released by Rarefaction in 1997 in the United States on audio CD and CD-ROM for Macintosh and Windows 95 PCs. The sound files (16-bit AIFF stereo, sampled at 44.1 kHz) are royalty free, and Rarefaction stated that they are free for use in "musical or multimedia project[s]".
Etymology is the study of history of words. Etymology or etymologies may also refer to:
- Etymologiae, an influential encyclopedia compiled during the 7th century by Isidore of Seville
- The Etymologies (Tolkien), an Elvish dictionary by J. R. R. Tolkien first published in 1987
- Etymology (album), an audio library recorded in 1995 by Skeleton Crew
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
late 14c., ethimolegia "facts of the origin and development of a word," from Old French etimologie, ethimologie (14c., Modern French étymologie), from Latin etymologia, from Greek etymologia "analysis of a word to find its true origin," properly "study of the true sense (of a word)," with -logia "study of, a speaking of" (see -logy) + etymon "true sense," neuter of etymos "true, real, actual," related to eteos "true," which perhaps is cognate with Sanskrit satyah, Gothic sunjis, Old English soð "true."\n
\nLatinized by Cicero as veriloquium. In classical times, with reference to meanings; later, to histories. Classical etymologists, Christian and pagan, based their explanations on allegory and guesswork, lacking historical records as well as the scientific method to analyze them, and the discipline fell into disrepute that lasted a millennium. Flaubert ["Dictionary of Received Ideas"] wrote that the general view was that etymology was "the easiest thing in the world with the help of Latin and a little ingenuity."\n
\nAs a modern branch of linguistic science treating of the origin and evolution of words, from 1640s. As "account of the particular history of a word" from mid-15c. Related: Etymological; etymologically.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Etymology \Et`y*mol"o*gy\ (-j[y^]), n.; pl. Etymologies (-j[i^]z). [L.etymologia, Gr. 'etymologi`a; 'e`tymon etymon + lo`gos discourse, description: cf. F. ['e]tymologie. See Etymon, and -logy.]
That branch of philological science which treats of the history of words, tracing out their origin, primitive significance, and changes of form and meaning.
That part of grammar which relates to the changes in the form of the words in a language; inflection.
n. 1 (context uncountable English) The study of the historical development of languages, particularly as manifested in individual words. 2 (context countable English) An account of the origin and historical development of a word.
n. a history of a word
the study of the sources and development of words
Usage examples of "etymology".
I need another etymology: parasitism, helotism, commensalism, mutualism, dulosis, symbiosis.
I paid always the greatest deference, I invited Mr Keekie of Loupinton, who was a sound preacher, and a great expounder of the kittle parts of the Old Testament, being a man well versed in the Hebrew and etymologies, for which he was much reverenced by the old people that delighted to search the Scriptures.
Before examining these etymologies metaphorically, we must address the suspicion that such an approach imposes anachronistic readings upon the material.
A chap from Liverpool used to be called Scouse, he tells her, wondering whether the etymology is the same.
The Algonkins, who knew no other meaning for Michabo than the Great Hare, had lost, by a false etymology, the best part of their religion.
Celtic language, but is apparently of Egyptian or Canaanitish etymology.
While I was at it looked up galactorrhea, which had not made it into the American Heritage, but the etymology became obvious as I searched: galaxy.
A humble-minded man may not have learning enough to know the etymology of the name which best describes his character, but the divine nature which is in him teaches him to look down, to walk meekly and softly, and to speak seldom, and always in love.
My object was not to settle the etymology or definition of a word, but to show that women had often died in childbed, poisoned in some way by their medical attendants.
The last century abounded with antiquarians of profound learning and easy faith, who, by the dim light of legends and traditions, of conjectures and etymologies, conducted the great grandchildren of Noah from the Tower of Babel to the extremities of the globe.
Maybe not, for in the Etymologies, the plural form of atar is simply atari (entry ATA-).
He would slip into our hands tempting baubles taken from etymology and comparative linguistics, and enjoyed seeing us grab them and come to grief.
I know that such enquiries into etymologies have been much decried: but if, as is the case, words are the representative signs of ideas, the genealogy of the one becomes that of the other, and a good etymological dictionary would be the most perfect history of the human understanding.
Without a tedious detail, the modern reader could not form a just idea of the strange allusions, the forced etymologies, the solemn trifling, and the impenetrable obscurity of these sages, who professed to reveal the system of the universe.
Orthography, etymology, syntax, and prosody, biography, astronomy, geography, and general cosmography, the sciences of compound proportion, algebra, land-surveying and levelling, vocal music, and drawing from models, were all at the ends of his ten chilled fingers.