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Saturday, March 22, 2008


No, that's not the science of bugs - you're thinking of entomology.
  • Etymology is the study of the history of words - when they entered a language, from what source, and how their form and meaning have changed over time
Thank you, Miss Wikipedia. So where do you go if you want to know where the word "jabberwocky" comes from, or why striped cats are called "tabbies"?

Well, look no further than here, in the best Online Etymology Dictionary on the Web.

Achtung! If you desperately need to understand why the frick your parents named you Winston-Wilbur, this should be your next stop. Disclaimer: sometimes knowing the origins of your name only makes it worse ...doesn't it, Joystone-Desirefortress?


Warren said...

Etymology is a passion of mine. I often find that by understanding the Latin or Greek root of an English word, the intended meaning becomes much clearer (as it has often corrupted over time). But I don't use etymonline; I use, which gives definitions from many dictionaries, INCLUDING etymnonline.

Twoton said...

I concur. It's like learning Chinese: once you realize that many of the little squiggles that make up a character actually have a meaning, memorizing them becomes much easier.

I'm currently reading Vitt/Pianka's "Lizards - Windows to the Evolution of Diversity", and I highly welcome his tireless explanations of all the scientific names. I'll never forget "hemidactylus" again!