Definition: The branch of linguistics that studies the origin and development of words and other linguistic forms. Examples of areas that are studied include the earliest origins of a word, how its meanings and connotations have changed, the meanings and origins of its component parts, whether and how it has spread to other languages, and how its meaning or use has been influenced by other words. The history of a word also is called its etymology.
Also Known As: etimología in Spanish
Many dictionaries include brief etymologies of words. The dictionary etymologies of the English "algebra" and the Spanish álgebra
indicate that they came from a Latin word derived from the Arabic al-jabr
. A longer etymology would indicate how the Arabic word originally was a medical term referring to the setting of bones, and that it came to refer in a broader sense to the concept of restoring what was broken.