ESL Web Directory

Etymology and History



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Online Etymology Dictionary

Excellent online dictionary of etymologies which covers an extensive range or words and phrases.

A site devoted to origins of words and slang phrases. Includes a searchable list of etymologies of interesting words and phrases, which are selected because their origins are inherently interesting or some bit of folklore, sometimes true and sometimes false.

Ancient Scripts

The aim of Ancient Scripts is to give an introduction to writing systems, which hopefully will tantalize the reader into searching for more information on the web or in books and publications.

Behind the Name

The etymology and history of First Names.

De Proverbio

Electronic Journal of International Proverb Studies. Proverbs, Quotations, Sayings, Wellerisms.

Ethnologue, Languages of the World, languages of the world. A searchable database of language resources.

Etymological Dictionary of Classical Mythology

An etymological dictionary focusing on those modern English words whose origins reach far back into Ancient Greek and Roman mythology.

Etymologically Speaking

A list of some curious word origins. Some of these are English, but some are French and German words from which we get some English words.

Fun-With-Words Etymology: word origins, books

Reviews of lots of books on etymology. Funny and amusing origins of selected words, phrases, expressions, and sayings.

History of the English Language

This site includes a list of links to on-line, worldwide resources for the study of the English language and its history. (Many of these links were discovered by others too numerous to list here! Thanks.) As well, my students are contributing to an anthology of historical texts representing different genres of English, and an encyclopedia on the cultural history of English.

Luciferous Logolepsy- Dragging obscure words into the light of day

Luciferous Logolepsy is a collection of over 9,000 obscure English words. Though the definition of an "English" word might seem to be straightforward, it is not. There exist so many adopted, derivative, archaic or abandoned words in what we loosely define as the "English Language", that a clear-cut definition seems impossible. For the purposes of this project though, words are included that may stretch any basic definitions.

MooT - the Grammar and Etymology game

Play Moot online -- the game that tests your knowledge of grammar, etymology, and semantics.

Old English at the University of Virginia

This site contains resources for students of Old English at the University of Virginia and elsewhere, including texts and exercises, information about Introduction to Old English, the new textbook by the creator of this web site (with a link to the free on-line version), and links to a selection of on-line resources. Students everywhere are invited to make free use of these pages.

Old English Fonts

Junicode (short for Junius-Unicode) is a Unicode font for medievalists.


English obscure words and etymology resources: online dictionary of weird and unusual words, word lists, technical vocabulary aids, lipograms, and word related essays

Proverbs and sayings

Proverbs and sayings English, huge searchable database with over 4000 proverbs. You can also find there sympathy sayings, new baby sayings and old proverbs.

Silva Rhetoricae

This online rhetoric, provided by Dr. Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University, is a guide to the terms of classical and renaissance rhetoric. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest (the big picture) of rhetoric because of the trees (the hundreds of Greek and Latin terms naming figures of speech, etc.) within rhetoric.

Take Our Word For It

The Web's only weekly etymology webzine

The English Language - A Brief History

A brief history of the English language including the origin of words, borrowed words and language families.

The Roots of English

Roots of English: an Etymological Dictionary by Prof. Eugene Cotter, Seton Hall University. AbleMedia Gold Chalice winning freeware from CTCWeb.

The Viking Liguistic Heritage in England

A look at the Viking influence on the English language.

The Word Detective

The Word Detective on the Web is the online version of The Word Detective, a newspaper column answering readers' questions about words and language.

Think! Baby Names

Baby names resource on the etymology and popularity of first names.

Victorian Slang

19th Century British Slang - Lower Class and Underworld This is vocabulary that only lower (mostly much lower) class characters would comprehend, let alone use.

What's That You Say?

Language and educational comics by Larry Paros, educator and innovator
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