Questions about tracing out and describing the elements of an individual word, as well as the historical changes in form and sense which that word has experienced over its history. Please use the 'phrase-origin' tag for phrase/expression origins.
This tag applies to questions about the origin of a word and the historical development of its meaning. Not to be confused with the buggy entomology (the study of insects), according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word etymology means:
1a. The process of tracing out and describing the elements of a word with their modifications of form and sense.
1b. An instance of this process; an account of the formation and radical signification of a word.
1c. The facts relating to the formation or derivation (of a word).
2. That branch of linguistic science which is concerned with determining the origin of words.
3. Gram. That part of grammar which treats of individual words, the parts of speech separately, their formation and inflexions.
English borrowed the word from Medieval French ethimologie (now etymologie in Modern French), which had in turn adopted it from Latin etymologia, who themselves pinched it from the Greek ἑτυμολογία, which was itself from ἑτυμολόγ-ος.
Etymology therefore concerns the process of tracing out and describing the elements of an individual word, as well as the changes in form and sense of that word over time.