I understand that nonetymological / unetymological mean "not etymological" - i.e. something which doesn't have any roots in formation. But I am unable to grasp its significance - does it mean "absolute" words which can't be broken down, and hence have no etymology? Or words that don't have any roots (how can something not have any roots?)

I couldn't understand the intent of using this word in this sentence:


A siphon (from Ancient Greek: σίφων, "pipe, tube", also spelled nonetymologically syphon)...


also spelled nonetymologically syphon [my emphasis]

That is, there is no etymological justification for replacing the ‹i›, representing Greek iota, with a ‹y›, which ordinarily represents Greek upsilon. The ‹y› reflects English pronunciation of the word rather than its Greek origin.

  • ooo makes sense! so nonetymological is "spelling that deviates from actual etymological word"? and so a nonetymological word will always have the etymological counterpart word?
    – gawkface
    Sep 20 '19 at 19:33
  • 2
    A nonetymological spelling is a spelling which deviates from the etymological spelling. It's the same word either way. Sep 20 '19 at 19:36
  • nice... etymology and nonetymology are about spellings! (just my mind doing meta-rollercoaster thrills :p)
    – gawkface
    Sep 20 '19 at 19:39
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    The way that words from other languages written in other alphabets are transcribed into English are never definitive and change over time. There never was a rule that the ancient Greek 'iota' MUST be transcribed into the English 'i'. It has been transcribed as 'j', for instance. It is therefore at best pedantic, and maybe just plain wrong to claim that transcribing iota as 'y' is 'non-etymological'.
    – JeremyC
    Sep 20 '19 at 21:14
  • wow @JeremyC I cant say I agree or disagree with your claim instead (or your rejection of the claim made by non-etymologists hehe), bcos all this super-meta dimension soon loses me! I did read about etymologocial fallacy but what you are saying is something along the lines of describing the canonical protocol I guess. Thanks for giving me food for thought...for trying to be more open-minded and curious :)
    – gawkface
    Sep 22 '19 at 10:59

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