Dictionary of Word Origins

Histories of More Than 8,000 English-Language Words

Ranked #5 in Etymology

The average English speaker knows 50,000 words in contemporary use - 25 more words than there are stars in the night sky visible to the naked eye. Yet stripped down to its origins, this apparently huge vocabulary is in reality a much smaller number of words from Latin, French and the Germanic languages. It is estimated that every year, 800 neologisms are added to the English language: acronyms - 'yuppie', blended words - 'motel', and those taken from foreign languages - 'savoir-faire'. The Bloomsbury Dictionary of Word Origins provides a concise history of over 8,000 of the most commonly used... more

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