English Etymology Resources

A knowledge of etymology helps with vocabulary and spelling, but only if you take an active interest. The Origin of Words and Names has some delightful tidbits of information that should pique your interest. If you need a little background, SparkNotes offers A Very Brief History of English, aimed at students studying vocabulary for the SAT.

Note: some sites may have incorrect information. See this article on Common Errors in Popular Etymology.     

References and Lists of Word Origins

Etymology Dictionaries

Greek and Latin Roots

International Words


  • Wordorigins.org  - searchable list of about 400 words and phrases, also has a discussion forum and more.

Ask the Etymology Experts

These guys know what they’re talking about, and they’re happy to answer your questions.

  • World Wide Words - seemingly endless pages on the history of words and phrases, plus many other language-related articles.
  • Wordwizard - forums for discussing word origins and English in general.

Etymology Podcasts

The makers of these podcasts also welcome your questions.

  • The Word Nerds - a weekly, 30 or 40 minute podcast all about language.
  • A Way With Words - a weekly, hour-long KPBS radio show about English. Listen to many older shows on Odeo

Etymology Quizzes

  • Etymologic - claims to be "the toughest word game on the web".