Online Etymology Dictionary

Last updated
Online Etymology Dictionary
Online Etymology Dictionary.jpg
Screenshot of the homepage in 2007
Type of businessPrivate
Type of site
Etymological dictionary
Available inEnglish
United States
OwnerHarper Family LLC
Key people
  • Douglas Harper
  • Dan McCormack
    (web design and coding)
Current statusactive

The Online Etymology Dictionary or Etymonline, sometimes abbreviated as OED (not to be confused with the Oxford English Dictionary , which the site often cites), is a free online dictionary that describes the origins of English words, written and compiled by Douglas R. Harper. [1]



Douglas R. Harper, an American Civil War historian and copy editor for LNP Media Group, [2] [3] compiled the etymology dictionary to record the history and evolution of more than 50,000 words, including slang and technical terms. [4] The core body of its etymology information stems from The Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology by Robert Barnhart, Ernest Klein's Comprehensive Etymology Dictionary of the English Language, The Middle English Compendium, The Oxford English Dictionary , and the 1889–1902 Century Dictionary . [5] Harper also researches on digital archives. On the Etymonline homepage, Harper says that he considers himself "essentially and for the most part" a compiler and evaluator of etymology research made by others.

Reviews and reputation

The Online Etymology Dictionary has been referenced by Oxford University's "Arts and Humanities Community Resource" catalog as "an excellent tool for those seeking the origins of words" [6] and cited in the Chicago Tribune as one of the "best resources for finding just the right word". [7] It is cited in academic work as a useful, though not definitive, reference for etymology. [8] [9] [10] In addition, it has been used as a data source for quantitative scholarly research. [11] [12]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dictionary</span> Collection of words and their meanings

A dictionary is a listing of lexemes from the lexicon of one or more specific languages, often arranged alphabetically, which may include information on definitions, usage, etymologies, pronunciations, translation, etc. It is a lexicographical reference that shows inter-relationships among the data.

False cognates are pairs of words that seem to be cognates because of similar sounds and meaning, but have different etymologies; they can be within the same language or from different languages, even within the same family. For example, the English word dog and the Mbabaram word dog have exactly the same meaning and very similar pronunciations, but by complete coincidence. Likewise, English much and Spanish mucho came by their similar meanings via completely different Proto-Indo-European roots, and same for English have and Spanish haber. This is different from false friends, which are similar-sounding words with different meanings, and may or may not be cognates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yule</span> Winter festival

Yule is a winter festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples that was incorporated into Christmas during the Christianisation of the Germanic peoples. In present times adherents of some new religious movements celebrate Yule independently of the Christian festival. Scholars have connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the heathen Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. The term Yule and cognates are still used in English and the Scandinavian languages as well as in Finnish and Estonian to describe Christmas and other festivals occurring during the winter holiday season. Furthermore, some present-day Christmas customs and traditions such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others may have connections to older pagan Yule traditions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chinglish</span> English that is influenced by a Chinese language

Chinglish is slang for spoken or written English language that is either influenced by a Chinese language, or is poorly translated. In Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong and Guangxi, the term "Chinglish" refers mainly to Cantonese-influenced English. This term is commonly applied to ungrammatical or nonsensical English in Chinese contexts, and may have pejorative or deprecating connotations. Other terms used to describe the phenomenon include "Chinese English", "China English", "Engrish" and "Sinicized English". The degree to which a Chinese variety of English exists or can be considered legitimate is still up for debate.

Folk etymology – also known as (generative) popular etymology, analogical reformation, (morphological)reanalysis and etymological reinterpretation – is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familiar one through popular usage. The form or the meaning of an archaic, foreign, or otherwise unfamiliar word is reinterpreted as resembling more familiar words or morphemes.

"Uncleftish Beholding" (1989) is a short text by Poul Anderson, included in his anthology "All One Universe". It is designed to illustrate what English might look like without its large number of words derived from languages such as French, Greek, and Latin, especially with regard to the proportion of scientific words with origins in those languages.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Adverbial genitive</span> Grammatical component

In grammar, an adverbial genitive is a noun declined in the genitive case that functions as an adverb.

In the lineal kinship system used in the English-speaking world, a niece or nephew is a child of an individual's sibling or sibling-in-law. A niece is female and a nephew is male, and they would call their parents' siblings aunt or uncle. The gender-neutral term nibling has been used in place of the common terms, especially in specialist literature.

These lists of English words of Celtic origin include English words derived from Celtic origins. These are, for example, Common Brittonic, Gaulish, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, or other languages.


  1. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Ohio University. 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-02-11. Retrieved 2007-01-05.
  2. "Q&A With Douglas Harper: Creator of the Online Etymology Dictionary – IMSE – Journal". 18 June 2015. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  3. "Contact Us". LancasterOnline. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  4. "Home Page". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2020-10-15.
  5. The dictionary's principal sources appear at Sources @ Online Etymology Dictionary
  6. "Online etymology dictionary". Arts and Humanities Community Resource. Oxford University . Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  7. Bierma, Nathan (2007-01-03). "Internet has best resources for finding just the right word". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  8. Paluzzi, Alessandro; Fernandez-Miranda, Juan; Torrenti, Matthew; Gardner, Paul (2012). "Retracing the etymology of terms in neuroanatomy". Clinical Anatomy . 25 (8): 1005–1014. doi:10.1002/ca.22053. PMID   23112209. S2CID   19961679.
  9. Hultgren, Anna Kristina (2013). "Lexical borrowing from English into Danish in the Sciences: An empirical investigation of 'domain loss'". International Journal of Applied Linguistics. 23 (2): 166–182. doi:10.1111/j.1473-4192.2012.00324.x.
  10. Mair, Victor (2015-04-10). "Farsi shekar ast". Language Log . Retrieved 2018-03-23.
    Mair, Victor (2016-01-28). "'Butterfly' words as a source of etymological confusion". Language Log . Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  11. Lieberman, Erez; Michel, Jean-Baptiste; Jackson, Joe; Tang, Tina; Nowak, Martin A. (2007). "Quantifying the evolutionary dynamics of language". Nature . 449 (7163): 713–716. Bibcode:2007Natur.449..713L. doi:10.1038/nature06137. PMC   2460562 . PMID   17928859.
  12. Jatowt, Adam; Duh, Kevin (2014). "A framework for analyzing semantic change of words across time" (PDF). IEEE/ACM Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. pp. 229–238. CiteSeerX . doi:10.1109/JCDL.2014.6970173. ISBN   978-1-4799-5569-5. S2CID   12357037.