definitions
  • synonyms

etymology

[ et-uh-mol-uh-jee ]
/ ˌɛt əˈmɒl ə dʒi /
||
SEE MORE SYNONYMS FOR etymology ON THESAURUS.COM

noun, plural et·y·mol·o·gies.

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.

RELATED CONTENT

Where Does The Word “Hobbit” Come From?Did Tolkien make up the word?
READ MORE

RELATED WORDS

origin, development, derivation, source, root, etymon

Nearby words

etym., etymological, etymologicon, etymologist, etymologize, etymology, etymon, etzel, eu, eu-, eubacteria

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
SYNONYMS FOR etymology
1 word origin, word source, derivation, origin.
2 word history, word lore, historical development.
Related forms
Can be confusedentomology etymology

Word story

English etymology comes via Old French etimologie, ethimologie from Latin etymologia (which Cicero spells in Greek letters and glosses as veriloquium, Latin for “speaking the truth, conveying the truth”), a loan translation of the Greek etymología “analysis of a word to discover its true meaning.” Etymología is a compound of the neuter noun étymon “true meaning of a word according to its origin” (a neuter noun use of the adjective étymos “true”) and -logía, a Greek combining form used in forming the names of sciences or bodies of knowledge.
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for etymology

British Dictionary definitions for etymology

etymology

/ (ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒɪ) /

noun plural -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 Formsetymological (ˌɛtɪməˈlɒdʒɪkəl), adjectiveetymologically, adverbetymologist, noun

Word Origin for etymology

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

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper