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Word of the Day
Friday, October 07, 2016

Definitions for etymology

  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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Citations for etymology
Occasionally people make the mistake of asking me where a word comes from. They never make this mistake twice. I am naturally a stern and silent fellow; even forbidding. But there's something about etymology and where words come from that overcomes my inbuilt taciturnity. Mark Forsyth, Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language, 2011
Thus have I have gone from trying to remember the name of a Salinger short story (“Last Day of the Last Furlough”) to looking up the etymology of “furlough” (Dutch) to wondering whether it had any relationship to “furlong” (no) to jogging my memory about the exact distance represented by that unit of measure (an eighth of a mile), to watching approximately every major horse race since the development of the movie camera. Kathryn Schulz, "The Rabbit-Hole Rabbit Hole," The New Yorker, June 4, 2015
Origin of etymology
Etymology finds its roots in the Greek terms étymos meaning "true" and lógos meaning "word, reason." It entered English in the late 1300s.