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etymology Line breaks: ety¦mol|ogy
Pronunciation: /ˌɛtɪˈmɒlədʒi/

Definition of etymology in English:

noun (plural etymologies)

[mass noun]
1The study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history: the decline of etymology as a linguistic discipline
More example sentences
  • Based on a rough study of etymology, these words for big numbers were popularized in 17th-century France and were based on the 14th-century coinage of ‘million.’
  • From this comes new ideas on sociology, on etymology, on history, poetry, on the nature of early religion, the impact of nature and geography on society, on divine intervention and a whole host of others topics.
  • His university lectures on etymology and linguistics were standing room only, and he invariably stayed late to answer a barrage of questions.
1.1 [count noun] The origin of a word and the historical development of its meaning: the etymology of the word ‘devil’
More example sentences
  • Mark cites specific qualitative facts about the meanings and etymologies of particular Somali words, and speculates on what they mean for the view of the world you get through Somali lexicon and metaphoric imagery.
  • All words have etymologies and all ideas have pedigrees.
  • The card file to the left of where my father sat has definitions and etymologies of frequently used words, such as pleasure and play.
derivation, word history, development, origin, source


Pronunciation: /ɛtɪˈmɒlədʒɪst/
Example sentences
  • Anyway, bemused etymologists eventually tracked down the source of this confusion.
  • And this is where the rules etymologists follow get rather complicated.
  • While virtually every dictionary describes the origins of ‘bamboozle’ as shrouded in obscurity, a few etymologists maintain its nautical pedigree.


Late Middle English: from Old French ethimologie, via Latin from Greek etumologia, from etumologos 'student of etymology', from etumon, neuter singular of etumos 'true'.

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