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.

Good-bye to Facebook

I’ve deleted the Wordorigins.org Facebook page. It only contained links to the site and no content that couldn’t be found elsewhere.

Facebook changed the interface for its web pages as of today, and I couldn’t find a way to post something new. (I’m sure there is a way, but it wasn’t obvious, and I couldn’t be bothered to figure it out.) I don’t think many people interact with the site through Facebook. (I’ve never given them money to boost the page’s profile.) I don’t think many will miss it.

Facebook is a mess and getting worse. I’m glad to be done with it. (I still have a personal Facebook account, but I only friend people I know in meatspace.)

The Twitter feed is still active.

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10K Twitter Followers

Wordorigins.org now has over 10,000 followers on Twitter. (We actually broke that barrier some time ago, but I’m in the midst of moving to Texas, so I’ve been slow in conveying the news.)

The site’s Twitter handle is @wordorigins. I generally post when I’ve added an article to the site, an entry to the Big List, or when a new topic arises in the discussion forums. If you’re old school and follow us via the site’s RSS or Atom feeds, the Twitter feed would be a duplication.

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Who We Are

Dave Wilton

Dave Wilton has a PhD in medieval English Literature from the University of Toronto and teaches writing at Texas A&M University. His research focus is cognitive approaches to Old English lit, and his dissertation examines how metaphors in Old English literature can explicate Anglo-Saxon ideas and conceptions of the mind, agency, and free will. Dave also has an M.A. from George Washington University in National Security Policy Studies and a B.A. from Lafayette College in Government and Law. He is also the author of Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends (Oxford University Press, 2004).

In past lives, Dave has worked as a marketing writer/editor and as a product manager for 3D graphics and digital television technologies at NVIDIA and OpenTV, for Science Applications International Corporation as a manager of programs that dismantled the nuclear stockpiles of the former Soviet Union, and as an arms control negotiator for the Pentagon.


Lila

Lila is the staff assistant here at Wordorigins.org. Her duties include reception and greeting of visitors, multiple daily perambulations, self-defenestration, mastication of assorted objects, and olfactory investigations.

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.

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