Meta: word-forming element meaning 1. "after, behind," 2. "changed, altered," 3. "higher, beyond;" from Gk.
November 12, 2012 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Are you enthusiastic ("pertaining to possession by a deity," from Gk. enthousiastikos "inspired," from enthousiazein ) about Etymology? ( ethimolegia "facts of the origin and development of a word," from O.Fr. et(h)imologie (14c., Mod.Fr. étymologie), from L. etymologia, from Gk. etymologia, properly "study of the true sense (of a word)," Then why not explore ( 1580s, "to investigate, examine," a back formation from exploration, or else from M.Fr. explorer (16c.), from L. explorare ) the vast resources (1610s, "means of supplying a want or deficiency," from Fr. resourse) of the ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY

Previously - but expanded and updated since.
posted by The Whelk (30 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
EXCELLENT. My current favorite odd etymology is robot (from Czech robotnik "slave").
posted by psoas at 12:25 PM on November 12, 2012

Sweet. And, yes, I loves me some etymology.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:50 PM on November 12, 2012

psoas, that certainly gives Sonic the Hedgehog a new color.

I discovered this site when I took a magazine-journalism course in college. The professor had us keep etymology notebooks. He wanted us to expand our vocabularies. He smirked every time I gave him mine to be graded. I logged more entries than my classmates did. The joke was on me. I wrote no readable articles that semester.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:56 PM on November 12, 2012

Lovely. Thanks for this.
posted by Splunge at 1:09 PM on November 12, 2012

This has been one of my favorite sites on the internet for a long time. As far as I know, it's the work of one guy.
posted by paulg at 1:10 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of my favorites is for 'egregious': from ex "out of" (see ex-) + grege, ablative of grex "herd, flock" (see gregarious).
posted by benito.strauss at 1:10 PM on November 12, 2012

And shakespeherian was never heard from again.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:11 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

- Looks up 'productivity sinkhole' -
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:24 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have read through this whole website, like, twice. I don't agree with everything he puts up, however, but I understand he's working from existing sources and not his own research.
posted by Jehan at 1:26 PM on November 12, 2012

My God, in my isolated folly, I had thought that etymonline was as popular a research tool as wikipedia. Now I realize everyone who favourites this post has led empty, callow lives up to this point. Oh ye gentlemen and ladies, who shall soon experience a level of delight only dreamt about in c-17 novels, go out and get some.
posted by Catchfire at 1:27 PM on November 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

I adore this site and use it at least once a week. Protip: the search indexes the etymologies as well as the headwords, so you can find some pretty interesting entries if you know what to look for. For instance, searching "proto indo" for words derived from Proto-Indo-European, one of the earliest theoretical human languages, or "unknown" for words lacking a source.

Another great single-creator linguistic resource: Howjsay, which offers 160,689 spoken recordings of words (20,000+ more entries than when I posted it barely two years ago!), all uploaded by a solitary British linguist.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:38 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yes! Nice!
posted by iotic at 2:27 PM on November 12, 2012

I assumed that everyone knew about this site. Add me to the list of lovers. It's like (a small part of) the OED for people who don't have access to the OED.

I have access to the OED. for now.
posted by exlotuseater at 2:35 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ha, I got my tumblr name from this site! Miffed at the unavailability of most variations of my actual name, including Yasaman which I go by here and most other places online, I found iasmelaion, which I reasoned must surely be obscure enough, and lo, it was.
posted by yasaman at 2:43 PM on November 12, 2012

Checked out facebook just to see how and if the word would be defined, was quite amused by the definition of "friend" in its context.
posted by AnTilgangs at 2:51 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you, I find most online dictionaries have terrible etymologies, if any.
posted by smoke at 3:19 PM on November 12, 2012

Etymology, yes; writing overly laden with etymological citations, no. But thanks for the link.
posted by O Blitiri at 3:35 PM on November 12, 2012

Yes, this site has been going for years, and you have to appreciate the amount of work that's gone into it from just one dude.
But I'm just curious if anyone can elucidate for me what kind of stink Douglas Harper was recently in pertaining to climate change? I saw something on the facebook page alluding to it, but couldn't figure it out, other than someone or some people were angry with him.
posted by Red Loop at 5:16 PM on November 12, 2012

posted by trip and a half at 5:22 PM on November 12, 2012

But I have work to do today! Curse you, Whelk. Curse you...

So what's the etymology of curse?
posted by Ghidorah at 6:33 PM on November 12, 2012

So what's the etymology of curse?
posted by JaredSeth at 6:59 PM on November 12, 2012

The curse "menstruation" is from 1930.

This is really not going to be a good site for me to have in my bookmarks.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:00 PM on November 12, 2012

Mmmmmmm, I lubs me some wordies!
posted by BlueHorse at 8:51 PM on November 12, 2012

Yes, answering stupid questions in my English classrooms tomorrow!
posted by robotot at 12:22 AM on November 13, 2012

... my actual name, including Yasaman which I go by here and most other places online, I found iasmelaion, which I reasoned must surely be obscure enough, and lo, it was.

jasmine (n.) from Fr. jasmin (M.Fr. jessemin)

posted by psoas at 10:32 AM on November 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yay! I love this site -- I've had it bookmarked on my bookmark toolbar for as long as I can remember.
posted by paperclip2000 at 11:26 AM on November 13, 2012

Jessamyn and I are indeed etymological name buddies! That does not give me modly powers though, to my dismay.
posted by yasaman at 12:04 PM on November 13, 2012

Have you read the guy behind this site's bio, though? I'm not sure I would trust him to be a disinterested source for some of the thornier, politically-charged etymological questions. For example, his entries for "left wing" and "right wing" make it really hard not to come away with a very solid grasp of all the negative connotations of the term "left-wing" while easily overlooking its original political sense, as a term for the political body of the masses of non-nobility in a populace. Meanwhile, right-wing, apparently, has only football to thank for its political sense, according to the site's etymological analysis.

I notice in his bio, the author describes having begun this project out of frustration after getting into one too many online arguments in which he found himself under attack for taking the South's side in discussions of the Civil War. So, as fascinated as I am personally by exploring the etymological histories of word-origins, that sets off some pretty big credibility alarms for me, and I'm not sure I could personally consider this site to be a useful, disinterested source.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:18 PM on November 13, 2012

Okay, on closer read, he's not claiming these online exchanges were what started him specifically on creating the etymology site, but he certainly suggests they played a significant role in putting him on the path that led to the creation of the site...

After literature, my online friend and I wandered into Civil War discussions, and instantly got pinned down by withering crossfire (we were on the Southern side) that sent me scurrying for ammunition from bigger and more obscure books. Soon I had a whole shelf full of them handy (I had sold off my Civil War library after finishing my own book about it).
posted by saulgoodman at 8:21 PM on November 13, 2012

Hey, I developed this site! Nice to see it linked here. I came across his site something like 10 years ago, back when it was all static HTML pages and really difficult to search. I wanted to have an easier way to search it, so I wrote a scraper to pull all the content into a local database and then wrote my own simple PHP-based site to browse and search the data. After using it for my own purposes for a while, I put a version of it up on my server and sent Doug Harper an email letting him see what it was like, and asking if he'd like it set up on the official server. He did, so he commissioned a logo, I developed an administrative interface to make it easier to edit and update the dictionary, and we put the new, dynamic version of the site online.

Of course, now that I look back at the code with the eyes of someone with 10 more years of web development experience, I shudder at the messiness of some of it. But I'm pleased to see it doesn't have any SQL injection vulnerabilities or anything like that.

I was working on an iPhone app for a while, but my real job got too busy and I had to set it aside. But I use the site often and am continually reminded how convenient it would be to have an app or at least a mobile-optimized layout for the site, so hopefully it'll happen sometime soon. I see he's got a Win8 app available, which is a great sign.
posted by TheCowGod at 3:03 PM on November 14, 2012 [3 favorites]

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