noun, plural et·y·mol·o·gies.
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Origin of etymology
historical usage of etymology
Ancient and medieval etymologies are mostly conjectures, puns, or folk etymologies, and are generally wildly incorrect. Cicero, for instance, gives the etymology of Venus (stem Vener- ), the goddess of love, as a derivation of the verb venīre “to come” because love and desire come to all. The most famous etymological howler in Latin is Lūcus a nōn lūcendō “Grove from there being no light,” a pun on lūcus “a clearing, grove” and lūcēre “to shine.” Lūcus a nōn lūcendō first appears in a commentary on the Aeneid by Maurus Servius Honoratus, a grammarian of the late 4th and early 5th centuries.
Common English folk etymologies include cockroach for Spanish cucaracha and chaise lounge for the correct chaise longue. In the case of cockroach, you have the unfamiliar Spanish sounds assimilating with two near-sounding English words, cock and roach. The longue in chaise longue means “long,” but to English readers, looks very close in spelling to lounge, which is a logical use for a chair that is made for reclining on.
Etymology in the sense “the linguistic science that investigates the origins of a word, its relationships with words in other languages, and its historical development in form and meaning” dates from the 1640s.
OTHER WORDS FROM etymology
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH etymologyentomology, etymology
Example sentences from the Web for etymology
The etymologist clears all those fences for you and delivers a word fresh into your hands.The Critical Game|John Albert Macy
The etymologist must either be an antiquary or must know where to go for sound antiquarian information.The Romance of Words (4th ed.)|Ernest Weekley
Judith had asked why, and he had told her she would never be an etymologist at that rate.It Never Can Happen Again|William De Morgan
No etymologist could have accounted for the name of our nation had he not had recourse to our annals.Amenities of Literature|Isaac Disraeli
Not one of our greatest explorers has unearthed more splendid palaces, than the etymologist.Thoughts on Life and Religion|Friedrich Max Mller