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John Dierdorf, dierdorf@prismnet.com



Introduction

WORD:

[OE. word str. n. = OFris., OS. word, MDu. wort (Du. woord), OHG., MHG., G. wort>, ON. orth (Sw., Da. ord), Goth. waurd OTeut. *wurdom pre-Teut. *wrdho-; cf. Lith. vardas name, Lett. wards word, forename, OPruss. wirds word, OIr. fordat “inquiunt”.

Indo-Eur. werdh- is generally taken to be a deriv. of wer-, were-, which appears in Gr. wereo I shall say, wretor speaker, L. verbum word, Skr. vratam command, law, etc.]

The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition

ENGLISH:

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

James D. Nicoll

I began this web page almost twenty years ago to note a few odd or amusing word derivations I had encountered in my trips through the dictionaries, and to put the matter kindly, the process has gotten somewhat out of hand.

In response to many complaints (well, three or four complaints) that I change this site too often and in random places, so it’s difficult to find the new material spread through the old, I’ve begun to date my changes in the form ddmmmyy before the item. For instance, a search for “Mar07” should find all the changes to a section made in that month. To reduce clutter, only changes in the last year are shown. If you haven’t read this page for a year or more, you need to start at the beginning anyway.

Here are some notes about a few stylistic quirks, as well as a couple of disclaimers. If you don’t care, feel free to skip directly to the word derivations.

If you got to this page directly from elsewhere on the Web, you can backtrack to my home page if you wish.