Welcome to Wordorigins.org
Wordorigins.org is devoted to the origins of words and phrases, or as a linguist would put it, to etymology. Etymology is the study of word origins. (It is not the study of insects; that is entomology.) Where words come from is a fascinating subject, full of folklore and historical lessons. Often, popular tales of a word’s origin arise. Sometimes these are true; more often they are not. While it can be disappointing when a neat little tale turns out to be untrue, almost invariably the true origin is just as interesting.
1K Followers on Twitter
After hovering in the 990s for weeks, the number of people following wordorigins on Twitter just topped 1,000 this afternoon.
In the great scheme of things, that’s not so impressive (both Charlie Sheen and Paris Hilton have over five million followers), but I like it.
New Registration Procedure
We’ve been having a big problem with robo-spammers on the forums. As a result, I’ve changed the procedure for registering new accounts. So if you’ve been having trouble with your account being deleted shortly after registering, please try again. This new procedure does not affect those already registered and who can successfully post to the board.
After you fill in the registration info (username, password, etc.), I will have to manually approve the registration. Please send me an email at that convinces me you are an actual human being, and I will activate your account. This “Turing test” should eliminate the robo-spammers.
You don’t need to be a registered member to read anything on this site. Everything here is open to the public. But to post comments on the forums or to blog posts you need to register. (Comments to blog posts are currently turned off, but I’ll be turning them back on once I’m convinced the spammers are under control.)
Note that I will still be monitoring new accounts and deleting those that consist of nothing but links to commercial web sites. I don’t run this site as a free advertising or search-engine-ranking-boosting service. (If you want to advertise here, you’ll have to pay me.) There is nothing wrong with participants on this site posting links to their web sites in their profiles, but just creating a profile so you can have a link to your site from this one is not cool.
S & W Slash Fiction
Old English Characters in Windows
Old English uses a number of letters and punctuation marks, like the thorn þ and the eth ð, that do not exist in modern English. Typing these can be a challenge. This MS Word document has information on how to get your Windows computer to produce these characters, OELetters.doc (721 Kb). (I don’t know the Mac, but if someone sends me info on how to do this on the Mac, I’ll add it to the document.)
If you’re typing for the web, like on this site’s discussion forum, it’s probably best to limit yourself to the most commonly supported characters. The more esoteric characters will probably not be seen on other people’s systems.
[Updated the linked MS Word document, Jan 2011 — dw]
Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton