I'm curious how one describes the etymology of a word. Does the etymology of a word entail more than its origin? Does etymology also contain a words usages and history?


etymology (n.) late 14c., ethimolegia "facts of the origin and development of a word," from Old French et(h)imologie (14c., Modern French étymologie), from Latin etymologia, from Greek etymologia, properly "study of the true sense (of a word)," from etymon "true sense" (neuter of etymos "true, real, actual," related to eteos "true") + -logia "study of, a speaking of" (see -logy).

In classical times, of meanings; later, of histories. Latinized by Cicero as veriloquium. As a branch of linguistic science, from 1640s. Related: Etymological; etymologically.

Source: Etymonline.com

etymology n. pl. et·y·mol·o·gies 1. The origin and historical development of a linguistic form as shown by determining its basic elements, earliest known use, and changes in form and meaning, tracing its transmission from one language to another, identifying its cognates in other languages, and reconstructing its ancestral form where possible. 2. The branch of linguistics that deals with etymologies.

Source: American Heritage Dictionary

As you can see from the etymology of the word 'etymology' and its current definition, both the origin and the different stages of development of its usage are part of the etymology of a word.

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I'm curious how one describes the etymology of a word.

Unless you want a recursive definition of etymology, I am assuming you mean how to describe the origin or way a word has evolved over a period of time. Putting aside any 'common' words that can be used (history, evolution, roots, etc), here are a few more less known ones that might be useful:

Congenetic: (Adjective) Having a common origin. (See also: isogenesis)

  • Chill and cool are congenetic words.

Monogenesis: Origin of diverse individuals or kinds (as of language) by descent from a single ancestral individual or kind

  • Pixel and email have the same monogenic origin: computers.

Polygenesis: Development from more than one source. (See also: polyphyletic)

  • The word computer has polygenic origins.

Fons et origo: (Phrase - Latin) Source and origin.

  • Etymology is a fons et origo science.

Endogeny: (Adjective) Formed from within.

  • Can't is an endogenic contraction of cannot.

Archology: (Noun) The science of origins.

  • The etymology of words is an archological investigation.

Cryptogenic: (Adjective) Unknown/mysterious origin.

  • The word the is cryptogenic.

États présents: (Phrase - French) An exhaustive summary of up-to-date knowledge about a subject, as opposed to new information or original thought.

  • The états présents of the word etymology is...
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