One of my geekiest qualities is my love of language. I have always loved words, how they fit together and in particular, where it might have come from. Fairly often, I’ll just stop in the middle of a conversation or a page, because the cogs just start twirling about one word and its origins.
This sometimes leads to conversations that go like this:
Asha playing Skyrim: “Hello Jarl. Yyyyaarl. Yeeee-arrrrl. Eeeearl. Hm. Oh! I bet that’s related to ‘earl’!” (correct).
Or, Asha watching The Apprentice: “Hey, that oud looks like a lute! Ooh! What if the English comes from the Arabic through French? Oud! L’oud! Lute!” (I was wrong on the coming through French, it’s just a corruption, but they are related).
When I have these flashes of inspiration/noise-mangling, I reach for a wonderful book, which is what I’m going to show you today:
Chambers’s Etymological English Dictionary is a fantastic book that contains, as well as definitions, basic notes on how each word developed in the English language. My edition was a gift from my grandmother for my 20th birthday, and I’ve used it so often since then!
It’s not in the most incredible condition, but for a book from 1884, that’s not half bad! It’s obviously well-loved, and I am continuing to love it…
This is one of my favourite things in my library, if only because after 130 years, it’s still so useful! I also find some of the outdated descriptions very very funny, and sometimes just dip into it for a few minutes to amuse myself. Chambers’s Etymological Dictionary is still in print, but I’m glad I have this lovely old copy.