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History, Words

Note 116 – Etymology: the study of word origins

I came across the word etymology today when flicking through Bernard C Lamb’s book The Queen’s English which gave me the inspiration to write today’s blog. Etymology is “the study of the sources and development of words” according to the Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus.  Studying where words come from, can help with spelling, for example, the word ‘science’ comes from the Latin word scientia

Did you know that etymologies can be found in some large dictionaries?  In the Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus, they are placed in bold square brackets together with the century that the word orginated e.g. C14 means 14th century.  There are also many websites which aim to give similar information about the words; one site I have found is Etymonline  Here are a few examples from the site:

  • Domestic – 15th century – domestique (modern French) and domesticus (Latin).
  • Abbreviation – Mid 15th century – comes from the Latin word brevis meaning short. 
  • Radiator – 1836 – comes from the Latin word radiate.

Another site I found is My Etymology: which claims to give the etymology for every word of every language and also the relationship that the word has with other words.

My thoughts: I hadn’t previously heard of etymology, but can now see that by regularly looking up word origins, it can really improve your vocabularly.  As Bernard C Lamb says “you will soon find that you can guess the meanings of so many new words just from knowing their components”.

That’s it for today. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter @madeirasandra or my Tips and Luxuries Facebook page.

Until tomorrow…


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Reference list:

Bernard C. Lamb The Queen’s English (2010), UK

Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus (UK)


My Etymology:


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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