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[et-uh-mol-uh-jee] /ˌɛt əˈmɒl ə dʒi/
noun, plural etymologies.
the derivation of a word.
a chronological account of the birth and development of a particular word or element of a word, often delineating its spread from one language to another and its evolving changes in form and meaning.
the study of historical linguistic change, especially as manifested in individual words.
Origin of etymology
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin etymologia < Greek etymología, equivalent to etymológ(os) studying the true meanings and values of words (étymo(s) true (see etymon) + lógos word, reason) + -ia -y3
Related forms
[et-uh-muh-loj-i-kuh l] /ˌɛt ə məˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/ (Show IPA),
etymologic, adjective
etymologically, adverb
etymologist, noun
pseudoetymological, adjective
pseudoetymologically, adverb
subetymology, noun, plural subetymologies.
unetymologic, adjective
unetymological, adjective
unetymologically, adverb
Can be confused
entomology, etymology. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for etymologist
Historical Examples
  • Languages of this latter kind are of subordinate value to the etymologist.

    Opuscula Robert Gordon Latham
  • Tito told a tale in a jargon which only an etymologist could have sifted into words.

    Fairfax and His Pride Marie Van Vorst
  • It is presumed, however, on grounds that satisfy the etymologist.

    The English Language Robert Gordon Latham
  • No etymologist could have accounted for the name of our nation had he not had recourse to our annals.

    Amenities of Literature

    Isaac Disraeli
  • I am not enough of an etymologist to give you the root of the word "noise."

  • The etymologist clears all those fences for you and delivers a word fresh into your hands.

    The Critical Game

    John Albert Macy
  • Not one of our greatest explorers has unearthed more splendid palaces, than the etymologist.

    Thoughts on Life and Religion Friedrich Max Mller
  • He had no desire to be a poet, an Indo-Iranian etymologist, a lecturer to women's clubs, or the secretary of state.

    Free Air Sinclair Lewis
  • The doom of the etymologist, so often duped by affinity of sounds, seems to have been that of our judicious Camden.

    Amenities of Literature

    Isaac Disraeli
  • It has given us glimpses of the workshop of the archaeologist, the anthropologist, and the etymologist.

    Mazes and Labyrinths W. H. Matthews
British Dictionary definitions for etymologist


noun (pl) -gies
the study of the sources and development of words and morphemes
an account of the source and development of a word or morpheme
Derived Forms
etymological (ˌɛtɪməˈlɒdʒɪkəl) adjective
etymologically, adverb
etymologist, noun
Word Origin
C14: via Latin from Greek etumologia; see etymon, -logy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for etymologist

1630s; see etymology + -ist. Also etymologer (1640s).



late 14c., ethimolegia "facts of the origin and development of a word," from Old French et(h)imologie (14c., Modern French étymologie), from Latin etymologia, from Greek etymologia, properly "study of the true sense (of a word)," from etymon "true sense" (neuter of etymos "true, real, actual," related to eteos "true") + -logia "study of, a speaking of" (see -logy).

In classical times, of meanings; later, of histories. Latinized by Cicero as veriloquium. As a branch of linguistic science, from 1640s. Related: Etymological; etymologically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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