What is Etymology?
Etymology deals with the study of the origin of words. It involves how a particular word came about in terms of its history, usage, and meaning at a particular point in time. Some words have different spellings or meanings in the past when compared to their present usage. Etymology traces the roots of the word and tracks its usage, spelling, and meaning over time.
The study of words and its origins may be done in a variety of methods. One such method is through philological research. This involves research of written material for particular words, particularly text in the older or ancient times. In this way, records and documentations of words are studied in terms of its meaning, usage, etc… Other etymologists use dialects to understand more about the history of words. Some words form their own meaning when spoken in different dialects so traces of history may be sourced from various dialects spoken. Others compare words from related languages. In this way, etymologists are able to determine which words are derivatives of other languages and which words are borrowed from others.
Many English words we know today are derivatives or borrowed words from other Languages. The word beef is borrowed from the French word boeuf. The word ‘swine’ is from the German ‘Schwein’. The word “boondocks” meaning mountain, is a derivative of a Tagalog word called “bundok”. But aside from borrowings and derivation, many words also evolve from other means. In today’s technological advancement, new words are coined by common people especially on the internet. In fact, some modern words or acronyms like “LOL” which means laughing out loud, is now part of Oxford’s dictionary or word list. “LOL” has now become an official word and according to the experts at Oxford, it used be known as “little old lady” but eventually it evolved over time and now became “laughing out loud”.
Knowing the history and origins of words is fun for some people like etymologists. For them, words suddenly have more meaning when you discover how they came about and how they changed or evolved over time.