Welcome to Wordorigins.org

Wordorigins.org is devoted to etymology. the study of word and phrase origins. (It is not the study of insects; that is entomology.) In and of itself, etymology isn’t a terribly important or necessary field—knowing the origins of words and phrases isn’t going to save lives improve anyone’s quality of life, it won’t even help you become a better writer—but it can reveal fascinating insights into history and the nature of humanity. Language not only grows and changes with the times, it also is central to our identities.

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. And in the cases where it’s not, the search can help sharpen our critical thinking skills.

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