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It has always been interesting for me to know how words are made and where they are coming from. Is there any reliable source for etymological studies? any books, or dictionaries out there?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Online Etymology Dictionary

The basic sources of this work are Weekley's "An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English," Klein's "A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language," "Oxford English Dictionary" (second edition), "Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology," Holthausen's "Etymologisches Wörterbuch der Englischen Sprache," and Kipfer and Chapman's "Dictionary of American Slang."

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Designed as the lexical companion to Wikipedia, the encyclopaedia project, Wiktionary has grown beyond a standard dictionary and now includes a thesaurus, a rhyme guide, phrase books, language statistics and extensive appendices. We aim to include not only the definition of a word, but also enough information to really understand it. Thus etymologies, pronunciations, sample quotations, synonyms, antonyms and translations are included.

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Are there any books out there that teaches the etymology in a more systematic way? – Manoochehr Sep 10 '11 at 6:14
Prone to folk etymologies, IMO. – TimLymington Jan 6 '13 at 12:13

The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is online at archive.org:


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General purpose:


  • USA: Chronicling America (1836-1922) by the Library of Congress
  • Australia: Trove (-1954) by the National Library of Australia
  • New Zealand: Papers Past (1839-1945) by the Nation Library of New Zealand

Particularly for computing terms:

Therefore it's important to double check the date: scroll up to confirm the real date for "full view" books, and for preview/"snippet view" verify with another source (such as the Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg or the HathiTrust Digital Library).

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