online etymology search question

A discussion of word histories and origins.
Junior Lexiterian
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online etymology search question

Postby attriever » Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:14 pm

Hey all,

I'm looking for an internet resource (hopefully free) where I can search word etymologies for bases or basewords that returns a list of English words derived from that base. An example base from Latin, to give you an idea, is scribere. A search under this base would yield such current English words as conscription, describe, scripture, transcribe, etc.. Similarly, an example from ancient Greek is bios. A search from this base would then yield such English words as biology, symbiosis, etc.

Right now, I use Merriam-Webster Online which works fairly well. Wouldn't mind a second even third resource though.

All input welcome. Thanks.


Postby bnjtokyo » Sat Dec 24, 2011 11:10 pm

Try the Online Etymological dictionary that is linked to this site. You can get to it two ways:
1) Just look up any word of the main page, and there will often be a link to "Word Origin" at the bottom of the "Quick Definitions"
2) Go to Dictionaries >> Speciality Glossaries >> Etymology >> Online Etymological dictionary

Enter your root in the search box and select natural language as your search mode

"bio" finds everything from "bio - short for biography" to "symbiotic"

There are a couple of clunkers like "Albion" you will have to ignore

Enter "bio*" gets you "biopsy" to "biogeny" but also "beestings" because there is a Old High German word "biost" in its etymology. Again, you will have skip that one.

Enter "*bio" gets you "abiotic" and "amphibian" (from Greek "amphbios" having double life)

So lots of good stuff and a little chaff. Good luck and good hunting.

Perry Lassiter
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:38 am

It was a surprise to me, but often the American Heritage Dictionary which shows up from inputting words in the home page seach engine shows as much as the others. Be sure and check it from the list. And, you can google ""etymology" followed by the word you want and get a list of sites.

Junior Lexiterian
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 6:14 pm
Location: Lake Tahoe

Postby attriever » Sun Dec 25, 2011 2:34 pm

Thank you for the info.

The Online Etymological dictionary looks especially helpful.

Merry Christmas!

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