Online Etymology Dictionary

Last updated
Online Etymology Dictionary
Online Etymology Dictionary.jpg
Screenshot of the homepage in 2007
Type of business Private
Type of site
Etymological dictionary
Available inEnglish
United States
Key people
  • Douglas Harper, Founder
  • Dan McCormack, web design and coding
Current statusactive

The Online Etymology Dictionary is a free online dictionary, written and compiled by Douglas R. Harper, that describes the origins of English-language words. [1]



Douglas 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

Dictionary 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.

Gibberish, also called jibber-jabber or gobbledygook, is speech that is nonsense. It may include speech sounds that are not actual words, or language games and specialized jargon that seems nonsensical to outsiders.

<i>Oxford English Dictionary</i> Premier historical dictionary of the English language

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world.

Yule Religious festival observed during the Winter season

Yule is a festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.

Wyrd Anglo-Saxon concept of personal fate or destiny

Wyrd is a concept in Anglo-Saxon culture roughly corresponding to fate or personal destiny. The word is ancestral to Modern English weird, which retains its original meaning only dialectically.

Chinglish 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.

Yo is a slang interjection, commonly associated with North American English. It was popularized by the Italian-American community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1940s.

Teat The projection from mammary glands from which milk flows

A teat is the projection from the mammary glands of mammals from which milk flows or is ejected for the purpose of feeding young. In many mammals the teat projects from the udder. The number of teats vary by mammalian species and often corresponds to the size of an average litter for that animal. In some cases, the teats of female animals are milked for the purpose of human consumption.

Folk etymology is a change in a word or phrase resulting from the replacement of an unfamiliar form by a more familiar one. The form or the meaning of an archaic, foreign, or otherwise unfamiliar word is reinterpreted as resembling more familiar words or morphemes.

An etymological dictionary discusses the etymology of the words listed. Often, large dictionaries, such as the Oxford English Dictionary and Webster's, will contain some etymological information, without aspiring to focus on etymology.

Irregardless is a word sometimes used in place of regardless or irrespective, which has caused controversy since the early twentieth century, though the word appeared in print as early as 1795.

Adverbial genitive grammatical component

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

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.