Introduction and Explanation


Etymologies are not definitions; they're explanations of what our words meant 600 or 2,000 years ago. Think of it as looking at pictures of your friends' parents when they were your age. People will continue to use words as they will, finding wider meanings for old words and coining new ones to fit new situations. In fact, this list is a testimony to that process.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Wonderful introduction! I tend to skim them after a few sentences if it becomes apparent there’s not enough meat on the bones for my appetite, but this one is bookmarked and will be enjoyed every time I come back for another chew.


Thank you! I keep reminding people that page is there. It’s the key to using the entire site up to its powers.

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I had thought this site just appeared out of thin air, but today I learned there’s person behind it. I also learned that gnocchi is related to knuckle.

I laugh here, I shake my head, and sometimes my heart skips a beat. Thank you so much for this prodigious effort.

—From a fellow copy editor, retired.

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