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etymology

[et-uh-mol-uh-jee]
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noun, plural et·y·mol·o·gies.
  1. the derivation of a word.
  2. 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.
  3. the study of historical linguistic change, especially as manifested in individual words.
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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 formset·y·mo·log·i·cal [et-uh-muh-loj-i-kuh l] /ˌɛt ə məˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/, et·y·mo·log·ic, adjectiveet·y·mo·log·i·cal·ly, adverbet·y·mol·o·gist, nounpseu·do·et·y·mo·log·i·cal, adjectivepseu·do·et·y·mo·log·i·cal·ly, adverbsub·et·y·mol·o·gy, noun, plural sub·et·y·mol·o·gies.un·et·y·mo·log·ic, adjectiveun·et·y·mo·log·i·cal, adjectiveun·et·y·mo·log·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedentomology etymology
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for etymology

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Cat language has been reduced to etymology in several tongues.

    Concerning Cats

    Helen M. Winslow

  • Why does the meaning of words depart so widely from their etymology?

  • The etymology of the euphonious word "Lobskous" I am unable to give.

    War from the Inside

    Frederick L. (Frederick Lyman) Hitchcock

  • I say, what 's the derivation of your cockie-leekie,—the etymology of the phrase?

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

  • I refer not merely, of course, to its etymology, but rather to its spiritual import.

    Socialism

    John Spargo


British Dictionary definitions for etymology

etymology

noun plural -gies
  1. the study of the sources and development of words and morphemes
  2. an account of the source and development of a word or morpheme
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Derived Formsetymological (ˌɛtɪməˈlɒdʒɪkəl), adjectiveetymologically, adverbetymologist, 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

Word Origin and History for etymology

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper