Etymology

Etymology

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Etymology is the study of the history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 of word
Word
In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content . This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own...

s, their origins, and how their form and meaning
Meaning (linguistics)
In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

 have changed over time.

For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during earlier periods of their history and when they entered the languages in question. Etymologists also apply the methods of comparative linguistics
Comparative linguistics
Comparative linguistics is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness....

 to reconstruct information about languages that are too old for any direct information to be available. By analyzing related languages with a technique known as the comparative method
Comparative method
In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...

, linguists can make inferences about their shared parent language and its vocabulary. In this way, word roots
Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

 have been found that can be traced all the way back to the origin of, for instance, the Indo-European
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 language family
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

.

Even though etymological research originally grew from the philological
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 tradition, currently much etymological research is done on language families
Language family
A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

 where little or no early documentation is available, such as Uralic
Uralic languages
The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

 and Austronesian
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

.

Etymology



The word "etymology" derives ; ; . Folk etymology is the sound, spelling and meaning of a word which is changed by the influences of cultures.

Methods


Etymologists apply a number of methods to study the origins of words, some of which are:
  • Philological
    Philology
    Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

     research. Changes in the form and meaning of the word can be traced with the aid of older texts, if such are available.
  • Making use of dialectological
    Dialectology
    Dialectology is the scientific study of linguistic dialect, a sub-field of sociolinguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features...

     data. The form or meaning of the word might show variations between dialects, which may yield clues about its earlier history.
  • The comparative method
    Comparative method
    In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...

    . By a systematic comparison of related languages, etymologists may often be able to detect which words derive from their common ancestor language and which were instead later borrowed from another language.
  • The study of semantic change
    Semantic change
    Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word...

    . Etymologists must often make hypotheses about changes in the meaning of particular words. Such hypotheses are tested against the general knowledge of semantic shifts. For example, the assumption of a particular change of meaning may be substantiated by showing that the same type of change has occurred in other languages as well.

Types of word origins


Etymological theory recognizes that words originate through a limited number of basic mechanisms, the most important of which are borrowing (i.e., the adoption of "loanwords" from other languages); word formation
Word formation
In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word's meaning...

 such as derivation
Derivation (linguistics)
In linguistics, derivation is the process of forming a new word on the basis of an existing word, e.g. happi-ness and un-happy from happy, or determination from determine...

 and compounding
Compound (linguistics)
In linguistics, a compound is a lexeme that consists of more than one stem. Compounding or composition is the word formation that creates compound lexemes...

; and onomatopoeia and sound symbolism
Sound symbolism
Sound symbolism or phonosemantics is a branch of linguistics and refers to the idea that vocal sounds have meaning. In particular, sound symbolism is the idea that phonemes carry meaning in and of themselves.-Origin:...

, (i.e., the creation of imitative words such as "click").

While the origin of newly emerged words is often more or less transparent, it tends to become obscured through time due to sound change or semantic change. Due to sound change
Sound change
Sound change includes any processes of language change that affect pronunciation or sound system structures...

, it is not readily obvious that the English word set is related to the word sit (the former is originally a causative
Causative
In linguistics, a causative is a form that indicates that a subject causes someone or something else to do or be something, or causes a change in state of a non-volitional event....

 formation of the latter). It is even less obvious that bless is related to blood (the former was originally a derivative with the meaning "to mark with blood"). Semantic change
Semantic change
Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word...

 may also occur. For example, the English word bead originally meant "prayer". It acquired its modern meaning through the practice of counting the recitation of prayers by using beads.

English language


English derives from Old English (sometimes referred to as Anglo-Saxon), a West Germanic variety, although its current vocabulary includes words from many languages. The Old English roots may be seen in the similarity of numbers in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, particularly seven/sieben, eight/acht, nine/neun, and ten/zehn. Pronoun
Pronoun
In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

s are also cognate: I/mine/me ich/mein/mich; thou/thine/thee and du/dein/dich; we/wir us/uns; she/sie. However, language change
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

 has eroded many grammatical elements, such as the noun case system, which is greatly simplified in modern English, and certain elements of vocabulary, some of which are borrowed from French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. Although many of the words in the English lexicon come from Romance languages, most of the common words used in English are of Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 origin.

When the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 conquered England in 1066 (see Norman Conquest), they brought their Norman language
Norman language
Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

 with them. During the Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman
The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

 period, which united insular and continental territories, the ruling class spoke Anglo-Norman
Anglo-Norman language
Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....

, while the peasants spoke the vernacular English of the time. Anglo-Norman was the conduit for the introduction of French into England, aided by the circulation of Langue d'oïl literature from France. This led to many paired words of French and English origin. For example, beef
Beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

is related, through borrowing, to modern French bœuf, veal
Veal
Veal is the meat of young cattle , as opposed to meat from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds...

to , pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

to , and poultry
Poultry
Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

to . All these words, French and English, refer to the meat rather than to the animal. Words that refer to farm animals, on the other hand, tend to be cognates of words in other Germanic languages. For example swine/Schwein, cow/Kuh, calf/Kalb, and sheep/Schaf. The variant usage has been explained by the proposition that it was the Norman rulers who mostly ate meat (an expensive commodity) and the Anglo-Saxons who farmed the animals. This explanation has passed into common folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 but has been disputed.

English has proven accommodating to words from many languages, as described in the following examples. Scientific terminology relies heavily on words of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 origin. Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 has contributed many words, particularly in the southwestern United States. Examples include buckaroo from vaquero or "cowboy"; alligator from el lagarto or "lizard"; rodeo and savvy; states' names such as Colorado and Florida. Cuddle, eerie, and greed come from Scots
Scots language
Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

; albino, palaver, lingo, verandah, and coconut from Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

; diva, prima donna, pasta, pizza, paparazzi, and umbrella from Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

; adobe, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, apricot, assassin, caliber, cotton, hazard, jacket, jar, julep, mosque, Muslim, orange, safari, sofa, and zero from Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

; honcho, sushi, and tsunami from Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

; dim sum, gung ho, kowtow, kumquat, ketchup, and typhoon from Cantonese
Standard Cantonese
Cantonese, or Standard Cantonese, is a language that originated in the vicinity of Canton in southern China, and is often regarded as the prestige dialect of Yue Chinese....

 Chinese; behemoth, hallelujah, Satan, jubilee, and rabbi from Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

; taiga, sable, and sputnik from Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

; galore, whiskey, phoney, trousers
Trousers
Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...

,
and Tory from Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

; brahman, guru, karma, and pandit from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

; kampong and amok from Malay
Malay language
Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

; smorgasbord and ombudsman from Swedish
Swedish language
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

; sauna from Finnish
Finnish language
Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

; and boondocks from the Tagalog
Tagalog language
Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a third of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by most of the rest. It is the first language of the Philippine region IV and of Metro Manila...

 word, bundok. (See also "loanword
Loanword
A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

.")

History


The search for meaningful origins for familiar or strange words is far older than the modern understanding of linguistic evolution and the relationships of languages, which began no earlier than the 18th century. From Antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 through the 17th century, from to Pindar
Pindar
Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

 to Sir Thomas Browne
Thomas Browne
Sir Thomas Browne was an English author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric....

, etymology had been a form of witty wordplay, in which the supposed origins of words were changed to satisfy contemporary requirements.

The Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 Pindar
Pindar
Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

 (born in approximately 522 BCE) employed creative
Creativity
Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs...

 etymologies to flatter his patrons. Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 employed etymologies insecurely based on fancied resemblances in sounds. Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville
Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

's Etymologiae
Etymologiae
Etymologiae is an encyclopedia compiled by Isidore of Seville towards the end of his life. It forms a bridge between a condensed epitome of classical learning at the close of Late Antiquity and the inheritance received, in large part through Isidore's work, by the early Middle Ages...

was an encyclopedic tracing of "first things" that remained uncritically in use in Europe until the sixteenth century. Etymologicum genuinum
Etymologicum Genuinum
The Etymologicum Genuinum is the conventional modern title given to a lexical encyclopedia compiled at Constantinople in the mid ninth century. The anonymous compilator drew on the works of numerous earlier lexicographers and scholiasts, both ancient and recent, including Herodian, George...

is a grammatical encyclopedia
Encyclopedia
An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

 edited at Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 in the ninth century, one of several similar Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 works. The fourteenth-century Legenda Aurea begins each vita
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

of a saint with a fanciful excursus
Excursus
An excursus is a short episode or anecdote in a work of literature . Often excursuses have nothing to do with the matter being discussed by the work, and are used to lighten the atmosphere in a tragic story, a similar function to that of satyr plays in Greek theatre...

 in the form of an etymology.

Ancient Sanskrit



The Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 linguists and grammarians of ancient India
History of India
The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

 were the first to make a comprehensive analysis of linguistics and etymology. The study of Sanskrit etymology has provided Western scholars with the basis of historical linguistics
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

 and modern etymology. Four of the most famous Sanskrit linguists are:
  • Yaska
    Yaska
    ' ) was a Sanskrit grammarian who preceded Pāṇini , assumed to have been active in the 5th or 6th century BC.He is the author of the Nirukta, a technical treatise on etymology, lexical category and the semantics of words...

     (c. 6th-5th centuries BCE) (c. 520-460 BCE)

  • {{redirect|Etymologies|the encyclopedia|Etymologiae|the Elvish dictionary|The Etymologies (Tolkien)}}
    {{Distinguish|Entomology|Etiology}}
    {{selfref|For help writing an etymology on Wikipedia, see Template:Etymology}}


    {{linguistics}}
    Etymology is the study of the
    history
    History
    History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

     of word
    Word
    In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content . This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own...

    s, their origins, and how their form and meaning
    Meaning (linguistics)
    In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

     have changed over time.

    For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during earlier periods of their history and when they entered the languages in question. Etymologists also apply the methods of comparative linguistics
    Comparative linguistics
    Comparative linguistics is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness....

     to reconstruct information about languages that are too old for any direct information to be available. By analyzing related languages with a technique known as the comparative method
    Comparative method
    In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...

    , linguists can make inferences about their shared parent language and its vocabulary. In this way, word roots
    Root (linguistics)
    The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

     have been found that can be traced all the way back to the origin of, for instance, the Indo-European
    Indo-European languages
    The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

     language family
    Language family
    A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

    .

    Even though etymological research originally grew from the philological
    Philology
    Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

     tradition, currently much etymological research is done on language families
    Language family
    A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

     where little or no early documentation is available, such as Uralic
    Uralic languages
    The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

     and Austronesian
    Austronesian languages
    The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

    .

    Etymology



    The word "etymology" derives {{ety|ell|{{LSJ|e)tumologi/a|{{polytonic|ἐτυμολογία}}}} (etumologíā)}}; {{ety||{{LSJ|e)/tumos|{{polytonic|ἔτυμον}}}} (étumon)|true sense||{{polytonic|-λογία}} (-logía)|study}}; {{ety||{{LSJ|lo/gos|{{polytonic|λόγος}}}} (lógos
    Logos
    ' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

    )|speech, account, reason}}. Folk etymology is the sound, spelling and meaning of a word which is changed by the influences of cultures.

    Methods


    Etymologists apply a number of methods to study the origins of words, some of which are:
    • Philological
      Philology
      Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

       research. Changes in the form and meaning of the word can be traced with the aid of older texts, if such are available.
    • Making use of dialectological
      Dialectology
      Dialectology is the scientific study of linguistic dialect, a sub-field of sociolinguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features...

       data. The form or meaning of the word might show variations between dialects, which may yield clues about its earlier history.
    • The comparative method
      Comparative method
      In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...

      . By a systematic comparison of related languages, etymologists may often be able to detect which words derive from their common ancestor language and which were instead later borrowed from another language.
    • The study of semantic change
      Semantic change
      Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word...

      . Etymologists must often make hypotheses about changes in the meaning of particular words. Such hypotheses are tested against the general knowledge of semantic shifts. For example, the assumption of a particular change of meaning may be substantiated by showing that the same type of change has occurred in other languages as well.

    Types of word origins


    Etymological theory recognizes that words originate through a limited number of basic mechanisms, the most important of which are borrowing (i.e., the adoption of "loanwords" from other languages); word formation
    Word formation
    In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word's meaning...

     such as derivation
    Derivation (linguistics)
    In linguistics, derivation is the process of forming a new word on the basis of an existing word, e.g. happi-ness and un-happy from happy, or determination from determine...

     and compounding
    Compound (linguistics)
    In linguistics, a compound is a lexeme that consists of more than one stem. Compounding or composition is the word formation that creates compound lexemes...

    ; and onomatopoeia and sound symbolism
    Sound symbolism
    Sound symbolism or phonosemantics is a branch of linguistics and refers to the idea that vocal sounds have meaning. In particular, sound symbolism is the idea that phonemes carry meaning in and of themselves.-Origin:...

    , (i.e., the creation of imitative words such as "click").

    While the origin of newly emerged words is often more or less transparent, it tends to become obscured through time due to sound change or semantic change. Due to sound change
    Sound change
    Sound change includes any processes of language change that affect pronunciation or sound system structures...

    , it is not readily obvious that the English word set is related to the word sit (the former is originally a causative
    Causative
    In linguistics, a causative is a form that indicates that a subject causes someone or something else to do or be something, or causes a change in state of a non-volitional event....

     formation of the latter). It is even less obvious that bless is related to blood (the former was originally a derivative with the meaning "to mark with blood"). Semantic change
    Semantic change
    Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word...

     may also occur. For example, the English word bead originally meant "prayer". It acquired its modern meaning through the practice of counting the recitation of prayers by using beads.

    English language


    {{Main|History of the English language}}

    English derives from Old English (sometimes referred to as Anglo-Saxon), a West Germanic variety, although its current vocabulary includes words from many languages. The Old English roots may be seen in the similarity of numbers in English
    English language
    English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

     and German
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

    , particularly seven/sieben, eight/acht, nine/neun, and ten/zehn. Pronoun
    Pronoun
    In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

    s are also cognate: I/mine/me ich/mein/mich; thou/thine/thee and du/dein/dich; we/wir us/uns; she/sie. However, language change
    Historical linguistics
    Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

     has eroded many grammatical elements, such as the noun case system, which is greatly simplified in modern English, and certain elements of vocabulary, some of which are borrowed from French
    French language
    French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

    . Although many of the words in the English lexicon come from Romance languages, most of the common words used in English are of Germanic
    Germanic languages
    The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

     origin.

    When the Normans
    Normans
    The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

     conquered England in 1066 (see Norman Conquest), they brought their Norman language
    Norman language
    Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

     with them. During the Anglo-Norman
    Anglo-Norman
    The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

     period, which united insular and continental territories, the ruling class spoke Anglo-Norman
    Anglo-Norman language
    Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....

    , while the peasants spoke the vernacular English of the time. Anglo-Norman was the conduit for the introduction of French into England, aided by the circulation of Langue d'oïl literature from France. This led to many paired words of French and English origin. For example, beef
    Beef
    Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

    is related, through borrowing, to modern French bœuf, veal
    Veal
    Veal is the meat of young cattle , as opposed to meat from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds...

    to {{lang|fr|veau}}, pork
    Pork
    Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

    to {{lang|fr|porc}}, and poultry
    Poultry
    Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

    to {{lang|fr|poulet}}. All these words, French and English, refer to the meat rather than to the animal. Words that refer to farm animals, on the other hand, tend to be cognates of words in other Germanic languages. For example swine/Schwein, cow/Kuh, calf/Kalb, and sheep/Schaf. The variant usage has been explained by the proposition that it was the Norman rulers who mostly ate meat (an expensive commodity) and the Anglo-Saxons who farmed the animals. This explanation has passed into common folklore
    Folklore
    Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

     but has been disputed.

    English has proven accommodating to words from many languages, as described in the following examples. Scientific terminology relies heavily on words of Latin
    Latin
    Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

     and Greek
    Greek language
    Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

     origin. Spanish
    Spanish language
    Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

     has contributed many words, particularly in the southwestern United States. Examples include buckaroo from vaquero or "cowboy"; alligator from el lagarto or "lizard"; rodeo and savvy; states' names such as Colorado and Florida. Cuddle, eerie, and greed come from Scots
    Scots language
    Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

    ; albino, palaver, lingo, verandah, and coconut from Portuguese
    Portuguese language
    Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

    ; diva, prima donna, pasta, pizza, paparazzi, and umbrella from Italian
    Italian language
    Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

    ; adobe, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, apricot, assassin, caliber, cotton, hazard, jacket, jar, julep, mosque, Muslim, orange, safari, sofa, and zero from Arabic
    Arabic language
    Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

    ; honcho, sushi, and tsunami from Japanese
    Japanese language
    is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

    ; dim sum, gung ho, kowtow, kumquat, ketchup, and typhoon from Cantonese
    Standard Cantonese
    Cantonese, or Standard Cantonese, is a language that originated in the vicinity of Canton in southern China, and is often regarded as the prestige dialect of Yue Chinese....

     Chinese; behemoth, hallelujah, Satan, jubilee, and rabbi from Hebrew
    Hebrew language
    Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

    ; taiga, sable, and sputnik from Russian
    Russian language
    Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

    ; galore, whiskey, phoney, trousers
    Trousers
    Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...

    ,
    and Tory from Irish
    Irish language
    Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

    ; brahman, guru, karma, and pandit from Sanskrit
    Sanskrit
    Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

    ; kampong and amok from Malay
    Malay language
    Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

    ; smorgasbord and ombudsman from Swedish
    Swedish language
    Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

    ; sauna from Finnish
    Finnish language
    Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

    ; and boondocks from the Tagalog
    Tagalog language
    Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a third of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by most of the rest. It is the first language of the Philippine region IV and of Metro Manila...

     word, bundok. (See also "loanword
    Loanword
    A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

    .")

    History


    The search for meaningful origins for familiar or strange words is far older than the modern understanding of linguistic evolution and the relationships of languages, which began no earlier than the 18th century. From Antiquity
    Classical antiquity
    Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

     through the 17th century, from {{IAST | Pāṇini}} to Pindar
    Pindar
    Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

     to Sir Thomas Browne
    Thomas Browne
    Sir Thomas Browne was an English author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric....

    , etymology had been a form of witty wordplay, in which the supposed origins of words were changed to satisfy contemporary requirements.

    The Greek
    Greeks
    The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

     poet
    Poet
    A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

     Pindar
    Pindar
    Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

     (born in approximately 522 BCE) employed creative
    Creativity
    Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs...

     etymologies to flatter his patrons. Plutarch
    Plutarch
    Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

     employed etymologies insecurely based on fancied resemblances in sounds. Isidore of Seville
    Isidore of Seville
    Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

    's Etymologiae
    Etymologiae
    Etymologiae is an encyclopedia compiled by Isidore of Seville towards the end of his life. It forms a bridge between a condensed epitome of classical learning at the close of Late Antiquity and the inheritance received, in large part through Isidore's work, by the early Middle Ages...

    was an encyclopedic tracing of "first things" that remained uncritically in use in Europe until the sixteenth century. Etymologicum genuinum
    Etymologicum Genuinum
    The Etymologicum Genuinum is the conventional modern title given to a lexical encyclopedia compiled at Constantinople in the mid ninth century. The anonymous compilator drew on the works of numerous earlier lexicographers and scholiasts, both ancient and recent, including Herodian, George...

    is a grammatical encyclopedia
    Encyclopedia
    An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

     edited at Constantinople
    Constantinople
    Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

     in the ninth century, one of several similar Byzantine
    Byzantine
    Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

     works. The fourteenth-century Legenda Aurea begins each vita
    Hagiography
    Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

    of a saint with a fanciful excursus
    Excursus
    An excursus is a short episode or anecdote in a work of literature . Often excursuses have nothing to do with the matter being discussed by the work, and are used to lighten the atmosphere in a tragic story, a similar function to that of satyr plays in Greek theatre...

     in the form of an etymology.{{Citation needed|date=May 2011}}

    Ancient Sanskrit


    {{Main|Nirukta}}
    The Sanskrit
    Sanskrit
    Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

     linguists and grammarians of ancient India
    History of India
    The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

     were the first to make a comprehensive analysis of linguistics and etymology. The study of Sanskrit etymology has provided Western scholars with the basis of historical linguistics
    Historical linguistics
    Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

     and modern etymology. Four of the most famous Sanskrit linguists are:
    • Yaska
      Yaska
      ' ) was a Sanskrit grammarian who preceded Pāṇini , assumed to have been active in the 5th or 6th century BC.He is the author of the Nirukta, a technical treatise on etymology, lexical category and the semantics of words...

       (c. 6th-5th centuries BCE) (c. 520-460 BCE)

    • {{redirect|Etymologies|the encyclopedia|Etymologiae|the Elvish dictionary|The Etymologies (Tolkien)}}
      {{Distinguish|Entomology|Etiology}}
      {{selfref|For help writing an etymology on Wikipedia, see Template:Etymology}}


      {{linguistics}}
      Etymology is the study of the
      history
      History
      History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

       of word
      Word
      In language, a word is the smallest free form that may be uttered in isolation with semantic or pragmatic content . This contrasts with a morpheme, which is the smallest unit of meaning but will not necessarily stand on its own...

      s, their origins, and how their form and meaning
      Meaning (linguistics)
      In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

       have changed over time.

      For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during earlier periods of their history and when they entered the languages in question. Etymologists also apply the methods of comparative linguistics
      Comparative linguistics
      Comparative linguistics is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical relatedness....

       to reconstruct information about languages that are too old for any direct information to be available. By analyzing related languages with a technique known as the comparative method
      Comparative method
      In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...

      , linguists can make inferences about their shared parent language and its vocabulary. In this way, word roots
      Root (linguistics)
      The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

       have been found that can be traced all the way back to the origin of, for instance, the Indo-European
      Indo-European languages
      The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

       language family
      Language family
      A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

      .

      Even though etymological research originally grew from the philological
      Philology
      Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

       tradition, currently much etymological research is done on language families
      Language family
      A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...

       where little or no early documentation is available, such as Uralic
      Uralic languages
      The Uralic languages constitute a language family of some three dozen languages spoken by approximately 25 million people. The healthiest Uralic languages in terms of the number of native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Mari and Udmurt...

       and Austronesian
      Austronesian languages
      The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

      .

      Etymology



      The word "etymology" derives {{ety|ell|{{LSJ|e)tumologi/a|{{polytonic|ἐτυμολογία}}}} (etumologíā)}}; {{ety||{{LSJ|e)/tumos|{{polytonic|ἔτυμον}}}} (étumon)|true sense||{{polytonic|-λογία}} (-logía)|study}}; {{ety||{{LSJ|lo/gos|{{polytonic|λόγος}}}} (lógos
      Logos
      ' is an important term in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Originally a word meaning "a ground", "a plea", "an opinion", "an expectation", "word," "speech," "account," "reason," it became a technical term in philosophy, beginning with Heraclitus ' is an important term in...

      )|speech, account, reason}}. Folk etymology is the sound, spelling and meaning of a word which is changed by the influences of cultures.

      Methods


      Etymologists apply a number of methods to study the origins of words, some of which are:
      • Philological
        Philology
        Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

         research. Changes in the form and meaning of the word can be traced with the aid of older texts, if such are available.
      • Making use of dialectological
        Dialectology
        Dialectology is the scientific study of linguistic dialect, a sub-field of sociolinguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features...

         data. The form or meaning of the word might show variations between dialects, which may yield clues about its earlier history.
      • The comparative method
        Comparative method
        In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyzes the internal...

        . By a systematic comparison of related languages, etymologists may often be able to detect which words derive from their common ancestor language and which were instead later borrowed from another language.
      • The study of semantic change
        Semantic change
        Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word...

        . Etymologists must often make hypotheses about changes in the meaning of particular words. Such hypotheses are tested against the general knowledge of semantic shifts. For example, the assumption of a particular change of meaning may be substantiated by showing that the same type of change has occurred in other languages as well.

      Types of word origins


      Etymological theory recognizes that words originate through a limited number of basic mechanisms, the most important of which are borrowing (i.e., the adoption of "loanwords" from other languages); word formation
      Word formation
      In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word's meaning...

       such as derivation
      Derivation (linguistics)
      In linguistics, derivation is the process of forming a new word on the basis of an existing word, e.g. happi-ness and un-happy from happy, or determination from determine...

       and compounding
      Compound (linguistics)
      In linguistics, a compound is a lexeme that consists of more than one stem. Compounding or composition is the word formation that creates compound lexemes...

      ; and onomatopoeia and sound symbolism
      Sound symbolism
      Sound symbolism or phonosemantics is a branch of linguistics and refers to the idea that vocal sounds have meaning. In particular, sound symbolism is the idea that phonemes carry meaning in and of themselves.-Origin:...

      , (i.e., the creation of imitative words such as "click").

      While the origin of newly emerged words is often more or less transparent, it tends to become obscured through time due to sound change or semantic change. Due to sound change
      Sound change
      Sound change includes any processes of language change that affect pronunciation or sound system structures...

      , it is not readily obvious that the English word set is related to the word sit (the former is originally a causative
      Causative
      In linguistics, a causative is a form that indicates that a subject causes someone or something else to do or be something, or causes a change in state of a non-volitional event....

       formation of the latter). It is even less obvious that bless is related to blood (the former was originally a derivative with the meaning "to mark with blood"). Semantic change
      Semantic change
      Semantic change, also known as semantic shift or semantic progression describes the evolution of word usage — usually to the point that the modern meaning is radically different from the original usage. In diachronic linguistics, semantic change is a change in one of the meanings of a word...

       may also occur. For example, the English word bead originally meant "prayer". It acquired its modern meaning through the practice of counting the recitation of prayers by using beads.

      English language


      {{Main|History of the English language}}

      English derives from Old English (sometimes referred to as Anglo-Saxon), a West Germanic variety, although its current vocabulary includes words from many languages. The Old English roots may be seen in the similarity of numbers in English
      English language
      English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

       and German
      German language
      German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

      , particularly seven/sieben, eight/acht, nine/neun, and ten/zehn. Pronoun
      Pronoun
      In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

      s are also cognate: I/mine/me ich/mein/mich; thou/thine/thee and du/dein/dich; we/wir us/uns; she/sie. However, language change
      Historical linguistics
      Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

       has eroded many grammatical elements, such as the noun case system, which is greatly simplified in modern English, and certain elements of vocabulary, some of which are borrowed from French
      French language
      French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

      . Although many of the words in the English lexicon come from Romance languages, most of the common words used in English are of Germanic
      Germanic languages
      The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

       origin.

      When the Normans
      Normans
      The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

       conquered England in 1066 (see Norman Conquest), they brought their Norman language
      Norman language
      Norman is a Romance language and one of the Oïl languages. Norman can be classified as one of the northern Oïl languages along with Picard and Walloon...

       with them. During the Anglo-Norman
      Anglo-Norman
      The Anglo-Normans were mainly the descendants of the Normans who ruled England following the Norman conquest by William the Conqueror in 1066. A small number of Normans were already settled in England prior to the conquest...

       period, which united insular and continental territories, the ruling class spoke Anglo-Norman
      Anglo-Norman language
      Anglo-Norman is the name traditionally given to the kind of Old Norman used in England and to some extent elsewhere in the British Isles during the Anglo-Norman period....

      , while the peasants spoke the vernacular English of the time. Anglo-Norman was the conduit for the introduction of French into England, aided by the circulation of Langue d'oïl literature from France. This led to many paired words of French and English origin. For example, beef
      Beef
      Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

      is related, through borrowing, to modern French bœuf, veal
      Veal
      Veal is the meat of young cattle , as opposed to meat from older cattle. Though veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed, most veal comes from male calves of dairy cattle breeds...

      to {{lang|fr|veau}}, pork
      Pork
      Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

      to {{lang|fr|porc}}, and poultry
      Poultry
      Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the purpose of producing eggs, meat, and/or feathers. These most typically are members of the superorder Galloanserae , especially the order Galliformes and the family Anatidae , commonly known as "waterfowl"...

      to {{lang|fr|poulet}}. All these words, French and English, refer to the meat rather than to the animal. Words that refer to farm animals, on the other hand, tend to be cognates of words in other Germanic languages. For example swine/Schwein, cow/Kuh, calf/Kalb, and sheep/Schaf. The variant usage has been explained by the proposition that it was the Norman rulers who mostly ate meat (an expensive commodity) and the Anglo-Saxons who farmed the animals. This explanation has passed into common folklore
      Folklore
      Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

       but has been disputed.

      English has proven accommodating to words from many languages, as described in the following examples. Scientific terminology relies heavily on words of Latin
      Latin
      Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

       and Greek
      Greek language
      Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

       origin. Spanish
      Spanish language
      Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

       has contributed many words, particularly in the southwestern United States. Examples include buckaroo from vaquero or "cowboy"; alligator from el lagarto or "lizard"; rodeo and savvy; states' names such as Colorado and Florida. Cuddle, eerie, and greed come from Scots
      Scots language
      Scots is the Germanic language variety spoken in Lowland Scotland and parts of Ulster . It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Celtic language variety spoken in most of the western Highlands and in the Hebrides.Since there are no universally accepted...

      ; albino, palaver, lingo, verandah, and coconut from Portuguese
      Portuguese language
      Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

      ; diva, prima donna, pasta, pizza, paparazzi, and umbrella from Italian
      Italian language
      Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

      ; adobe, alcohol, algebra, algorithm, apricot, assassin, caliber, cotton, hazard, jacket, jar, julep, mosque, Muslim, orange, safari, sofa, and zero from Arabic
      Arabic language
      Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

      ; honcho, sushi, and tsunami from Japanese
      Japanese language
      is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

      ; dim sum, gung ho, kowtow, kumquat, ketchup, and typhoon from Cantonese
      Standard Cantonese
      Cantonese, or Standard Cantonese, is a language that originated in the vicinity of Canton in southern China, and is often regarded as the prestige dialect of Yue Chinese....

       Chinese; behemoth, hallelujah, Satan, jubilee, and rabbi from Hebrew
      Hebrew language
      Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

      ; taiga, sable, and sputnik from Russian
      Russian language
      Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

      ; galore, whiskey, phoney, trousers
      Trousers
      Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...

      ,
      and Tory from Irish
      Irish language
      Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

      ; brahman, guru, karma, and pandit from Sanskrit
      Sanskrit
      Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

      ; kampong and amok from Malay
      Malay language
      Malay is a major language of the Austronesian family. It is the official language of Malaysia , Indonesia , Brunei and Singapore...

      ; smorgasbord and ombudsman from Swedish
      Swedish language
      Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken by approximately 10 million people, predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, especially along its coast and on the Åland islands. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish...

      ; sauna from Finnish
      Finnish language
      Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland Primarily for use by restaurant menus and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a...

      ; and boondocks from the Tagalog
      Tagalog language
      Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a third of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by most of the rest. It is the first language of the Philippine region IV and of Metro Manila...

       word, bundok. (See also "loanword
      Loanword
      A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language. By contrast, a calque or loan translation is a related concept where the meaning or idiom is borrowed rather than the lexical item itself. The word loanword is itself a calque of the German Lehnwort,...

      .")

      History


      The search for meaningful origins for familiar or strange words is far older than the modern understanding of linguistic evolution and the relationships of languages, which began no earlier than the 18th century. From Antiquity
      Classical antiquity
      Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

       through the 17th century, from {{IAST | Pāṇini}} to Pindar
      Pindar
      Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

       to Sir Thomas Browne
      Thomas Browne
      Sir Thomas Browne was an English author of varied works which reveal his wide learning in diverse fields including medicine, religion, science and the esoteric....

      , etymology had been a form of witty wordplay, in which the supposed origins of words were changed to satisfy contemporary requirements.

      The Greek
      Greeks
      The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

       poet
      Poet
      A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

       Pindar
      Pindar
      Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

       (born in approximately 522 BCE) employed creative
      Creativity
      Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs...

       etymologies to flatter his patrons. Plutarch
      Plutarch
      Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

       employed etymologies insecurely based on fancied resemblances in sounds. Isidore of Seville
      Isidore of Seville
      Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

      's Etymologiae
      Etymologiae
      Etymologiae is an encyclopedia compiled by Isidore of Seville towards the end of his life. It forms a bridge between a condensed epitome of classical learning at the close of Late Antiquity and the inheritance received, in large part through Isidore's work, by the early Middle Ages...

      was an encyclopedic tracing of "first things" that remained uncritically in use in Europe until the sixteenth century. Etymologicum genuinum
      Etymologicum Genuinum
      The Etymologicum Genuinum is the conventional modern title given to a lexical encyclopedia compiled at Constantinople in the mid ninth century. The anonymous compilator drew on the works of numerous earlier lexicographers and scholiasts, both ancient and recent, including Herodian, George...

      is a grammatical encyclopedia
      Encyclopedia
      An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....

       edited at Constantinople
      Constantinople
      Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

       in the ninth century, one of several similar Byzantine
      Byzantine
      Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

       works. The fourteenth-century Legenda Aurea begins each vita
      Hagiography
      Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

      of a saint with a fanciful excursus
      Excursus
      An excursus is a short episode or anecdote in a work of literature . Often excursuses have nothing to do with the matter being discussed by the work, and are used to lighten the atmosphere in a tragic story, a similar function to that of satyr plays in Greek theatre...

       in the form of an etymology.{{Citation needed|date=May 2011}}

      Ancient Sanskrit


      {{Main|Nirukta}}
      The Sanskrit
      Sanskrit
      Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

       linguists and grammarians of ancient India
      History of India
      The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

       were the first to make a comprehensive analysis of linguistics and etymology. The study of Sanskrit etymology has provided Western scholars with the basis of historical linguistics
      Historical linguistics
      Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

       and modern etymology. Four of the most famous Sanskrit linguists are:
      • Yaska
        Yaska
        ' ) was a Sanskrit grammarian who preceded Pāṇini , assumed to have been active in the 5th or 6th century BC.He is the author of the Nirukta, a technical treatise on etymology, lexical category and the semantics of words...

         (c. 6th-5th centuries BCE) (c. 520-460 BCE)
      • {{IAST
        Katyayana
        Kātyāyana was a Sanskrit grammarian, mathematician and Vedic priest who lived in ancient India.-Works:He is known for two works:...

         (2nd century BCE)
      • {{IAST
        Patañjali
        Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...

         (2nd century BCE)


      These linguists were not the earliest Sanskrit grammarians, however. They followed a line of ancient grammarians of Sanskrit who lived several centuries earlier. The earliest of attested etymologies can be found in Vedic literature
      Vedas
      The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

       in the philosophical explanations of the Brahmana
      Brahmana
      The Brāhmaṇas are part of the Hindu śruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals....

      s
      , Aranyaka
      Aranyaka
      The Aranyakas are part of the Hindu śruti, the four Vedas; they were composed in late Vedic Sanskrit typical of the Brahmanas and early Upanishads; indeed, they frequently form part of either the Brahmanas or the Upanishads....

      s,
      and Upanishad
      Upanishad
      The Upanishads are philosophical texts considered to be an early source of Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main or old Upanishads...

      s
      .

      The analyses of Sanskrit grammar
      Vyakarana
      The Sanskrit grammatical tradition of ' is one of the six Vedanga disciplines. It has its roots in late Vedic India, and includes the famous work, The Sanskrit grammatical tradition of ' is one of the six Vedanga disciplines. It has its roots in late Vedic India, and includes the famous work, ...

       done by the previously mentioned linguists involved extensive studies on the etymology (called Nirukta
      Nirukta
      Nirukta is one of the six disciplines of Hinduism, treating etymology, particularly of obscure words, especially those occurring in the Vedas. The discipline is traditionally attributed to , an ancient Sanskrit grammarian...

      or Vyutpatti in Sanskrit) of Sanskrit words, because the ancient Indo-Aryans
      Indo-Aryans
      Indo-Aryan is an ethno-linguistic term referring to the wide collection of peoples united as native speakers of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian family of Indo-European languages...

       considered sound and speech itself to be sacred and, for them, the words of the sacred Vedas
      Vedas
      The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

      contained deep encoding of the mysteries of the soul and God.

      Ancient Greco-Roman


      One of the earliest philosophical texts of the Classical Greek period to address etymology was the Socratic dialogue
      Socratic dialogue
      Socratic dialogue is a genre of prose literary works developed in Greece at the turn of the fourth century BC, preserved today in the dialogues of Plato and the Socratic works of Xenophon - either dramatic or narrative - in which characters discuss moral and philosophical problems, illustrating a...

       Cratylus
      Cratylus (dialogue)
      Cratylus is the name of a dialogue by Plato. Most modern scholars agree that it was written mostly during Plato's so-called middle period...

      (c. 360 BCE) by Plato
      Plato
      Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

      . During much of the dialogue, Socrates
      Socrates
      Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

       makes guesses as to the origins of many words, including the names of the gods. In his Ode
      Ode
      Ode is a type of lyrical verse. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist...

      s Pindar
      Pindar
      Pindar , was an Ancient Greek lyric poet. Of the canonical nine lyric poets of ancient Greece, his work is the best preserved. Quintilian described him as "by far the greatest of the nine lyric poets, in virtue of his inspired magnificence, the beauty of his thoughts and figures, the rich...

       spins complimentary etymologies to flatter his patrons. Plutarch
      Plutarch
      Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

       (Life of Numa Pompilius
      Numa Pompilius
      Numa Pompilius was the legendary second king of Rome, succeeding Romulus. What tales are descended to us about him come from Valerius Antias, an author from the early part of the 1st century BC known through limited mentions of later authors , Dionysius of Halicarnassus circa 60BC-...

      ) spins an etymology for pontifex
      Pontifex Maximus
      The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

      ("bridge-builder"):
      the priests, called Pontifices.... have the name of Pontifices from potens, powerful, because they attend the service of the gods, who have power and command over all. Others make the word refer to exceptions of impossible cases; the priests were to perform all the duties possible to them; if any thing lay beyond their power, the exception was not to be cavilled at. The most common opinion is the most absurd, which derives this word from pons, and assigns the priests the title of bridge-makers. The sacrifices performed on the bridge were amongst the most sacred and ancient, and the keeping and repairing of the bridge attached, like any other public sacred office, to the priesthood.

      Medieval


      {{Main|Medieval etymology}}
      Isidore of Seville
      Isidore of Seville
      Saint Isidore of Seville served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, "le dernier savant du monde ancien"...

       compiled a volume of etymologies to illuminate the triumph of religion. Each saint's legend in Jacob de Voragine's Legenda Aurea begins with an etymological discourse on the saint's name:
      Lucy is said of light, and light is beauty in beholding, after that S. Ambrose saith: The nature of light is such, she is gracious in beholding, she spreadeth over all without lying down, she passeth in going right without crooking by right long line; and it is without dilation of tarrying, and therefore it is showed the blessed Lucy hath beauty of virginity without any corruption; essence of charity without disordinate love; rightful going and devotion to God, without squaring out of the way; right long line by continual work without negligence of slothful tarrying. In Lucy is said, the way of light.

      Modern era


      {{See|comparative method}}

      Etymology in the modern sense emerged in the late 18th century European academia, within the context of the wider "Age of Enlightenment
      Age of Enlightenment
      The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

      ," although preceded by 17th century pioneers such as Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn
      Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn
      Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn was a Dutch scholar . Born in Bergen op Zoom, he was professor at the University of Leiden. He discovered the similarity among Indo-European languages, and supposed the existence of a primitive common language which he called 'Scythian'...

      , Vossius, Stephen Skinner
      Stephen Skinner
      Stephen Skinner was a Lincoln physician, lexicographer and etymologist.He graduated at Oxford University in 1646, and went to lived on the continent, graduating at the University of Heidelberg in 1654....

      , Elisha Coles
      Elisha Coles
      Elisha Coles was a 17th century English lexicographer and stenographer, chorister of Magdalen College, Oxford, 1658-61; teacher of Latin and English in London, 1663; usher of Merchant Taylors School, 1677; master of Galway school, 1678....

      , and William Wotton
      William Wotton
      William Wotton was an English scholar, chiefly remembered for his remarkable abilities in learning languages and for his involvement in the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns. In Wales he is remembered as the collector and first translator of the ancient Welsh laws.-Early years:William Wotton...

      . The first known systematic attempt to prove the relationship between two languages on the basis of similarity of grammar
      Grammar
      In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

       and lexicon
      Lexicon
      In linguistics, the lexicon of a language is its vocabulary, including its words and expressions. A lexicon is also a synonym of the word thesaurus. More formally, it is a language's inventory of lexemes. Coined in English 1603, the word "lexicon" derives from the Greek "λεξικόν" , neut...

       was made in 1770 by the Hungarian, János Sajnovics
      János Sajnovics
      János Sajnovics de Tordas et Káloz was a Hungarian linguist and Jesuit. He is best known for his pioneering work in comparative linguistics, particularly his systematic demonstratation of the relationship between Sami and Hungarian....

      , when he attempted to demonstrate the relationship between Sami
      Sami languages
      Sami or Saami is a general name for a group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sami people in parts of northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and extreme northwestern Russia, in Northern Europe. Sami is frequently and erroneously believed to be a single language. Several names are used for the Sami...

       and Hungarian
      Hungarian language
      Hungarian is a Uralic language, part of the Ugric group. With some 14 million speakers, it is one of the most widely spoken non-Indo-European languages in Europe....

       (work that was later extended to the whole Finno-Ugric language family
      Finno-Ugric languages
      Finno-Ugric , Finno-Ugrian or Fenno-Ugric is a traditional group of languages in the Uralic language family that comprises the Finno-Permic and Ugric language families....

       in 1799 by his fellow countryman, Samuel Gyarmathi
      Samuel Gyarmathi
      Sámuel Gyarmathi was a Hungarian linguist, born in Cluj . He is best known for his systematic demonstration of the comparative history of the Finno-Ugric languages in the book Affinitas linguae hungaricae cum linguis fennicae originis grammatice demonstrata which built on the earlier work of...

      ). The origin of modern historical linguistics
      Historical linguistics
      Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

       is often traced back to Sir William Jones
      William Jones (philologist)
      Sir William Jones was an English philologist and scholar of ancient India, particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among Indo-European languages...

      , an English philologist
      Philology
      Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

       living in India
      India
      India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

      , who in 1782 observed the genetic relationship between Sanskrit
      Sanskrit
      Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

      , Greek
      Ancient Greek
      Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

       and Latin
      Latin
      Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

      . Jones published his The Sanscrit Language in 1786, laying the foundation for the field of Indo-European linguistics.

      The study of etymology in Germanic philology
      Germanic philology
      Germanic philology is the philological study of the Germanic languages particularly from a comparative or historical perspective.The beginnings of research into the Germanic languages began in the 16th century, with the discovery of literary texts in the earlier phases of the languages. Early...

       was introduced by Rasmus Christian Rask
      Rasmus Christian Rask
      Rasmus Rask was a Danish scholar and philologist.-Biography:...

       in the early 19th century and elevated to a high standard with the German Dictionary
      German dictionary
      German dictionaries have a history dating back to the Brothers Grimm, who started work on the first major dictionary of the German language, the Deutsches Wörterbuch in 1838. The Duden dictionary dates back to 1880, and is currently the prescriptive source for the spelling of German....

      of the Brothers Grimm
      Brothers Grimm
      The Brothers Grimm , Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm , were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected folklore and published several collections of it as Grimm's Fairy Tales, which became very popular...

      . The successes of the comparative approach culminated in the Neogrammarian
      Neogrammarian
      The Neogrammarians were a German school of linguists, originally at the University of Leipzig, in the late 19th century who proposed the Neogrammarian hypothesis of the regularity of sound change...

       school of the late 19th century. Still in the 19th century, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
      Friedrich Nietzsche
      Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

       used etymological strategies (principally and most famously in On the Genealogy of Morals, but also elsewhere) to argue that moral values have definite historical (specifically, cultural) origins where modulations in meaning regarding certain concepts (such as "good" and "evil") show how these ideas had changed over time—according to which value-system appropriated them. This strategy gained popularity in the 20th century, and philosophers, such as Jacques Derrida
      Jacques Derrida
      Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

      , have used etymologies to indicate former meanings of words to de-center the "violent hierarchies" of Western metaphysics
      Metaphysics
      Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

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