"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[et-uh-mol-uh-jee] /ˌɛt əˈmɒl ə dʒi/
noun, plural etymologies.
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.
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 forms
[et-uh-muh-loj-i-kuh l] /ˌɛt ə məˈlɒdʒ ɪ kəl/ (Show IPA),
etymologic, adjective
etymologically, adverb
etymologist, noun
pseudoetymological, adjective
pseudoetymologically, adverb
subetymology, noun, plural subetymologies.
unetymologic, adjective
unetymological, adjective
unetymologically, adverb
Can be confused
entomology, etymology. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for etymology
  • The etymology of the word should steer you in the right direction.
  • Its etymology is not given in the American dictionaries.
  • This hodgepodge of events, facts, etymology and science reflects the author's curious mind and might interest others as well.
  • But, as a famous expert on etymology, he must have known he had used the wrong word.
  • Plagiarism is as old as its etymology suggests and hardly epidemic.
  • The etymology of this phrase is important because its current use has become a source of worry for millions of advancing years.
  • Students choose programs that range from genomics to etymology to music theory.
  • Coming up with instantly invented lexicography and etymology are especially popular with that crowd.
  • The etymology of the name is not known it is probably not greek.
  • etymology several theories exist regarding the origin of the name helots.
British Dictionary definitions for etymology


noun (pl) -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 Forms
etymological (ˌɛtɪməˈlɒdʒɪkəl) adjective
etymologically, adverb
etymologist, 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
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Word Origin and History for etymology

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
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