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An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology

An Introduction

2007
Author:

Anatoly Liberman

An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology

The first dictionary of its kind, drawn from four centuries of research in twenty-five languages

This work introduces renowned linguistics scholar Anatoly Liberman’s comprehensive dictionary and bibliography of the etymology of English words. This unique resource addresses fifty-five words traditionally dismissed as being of unknown etymology. Each entry is a full-fledged article, shedding light for the first time on the source of some of the most widely disputed word origins in the English language.

Anatoly Liberman is one of the leading scholars in the field of English etymology. Undoubtedly his work will be an indispensable tool for the ongoing revision of the etymological component of the entries in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Bernhard Diensberg, OED consultant, French etymologies

An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology

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This work introduces renowned linguistics scholar Anatoly Liberman’s comprehensive dictionary and bibliography of the etymology of English words. The English etymological dictionaries published in the past claim to solve the mysteries of word origins even when those origins have been widely disputed. An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology, by contrast, discusses all of the existing derivations of English words and proposes the best one.

In this inaugural volume, Liberman addresses fifty-five words traditionally dismissed as being of unknown etymology. Some of the entries are among the most commonly used words in English, including man, boy, girl, bird, brain, understand, key, ever, and yet. Others are slang: mooch, nudge, pimp, filch, gawk, and skedaddle. Many, such as beacon, oat, hemlock, ivy, and toad, have existed for centuries, whereas some have appeared more recently—for example, slang, kitty-corner, and Jeep. They are all united by their etymological obscurity.

This unique resource discusses the main problems in the methodology of etymological research and contains indexes of subjects, names, and all of the root words. Each entry is a full-fledged article, shedding light for the first time on the source of some of the most widely disputed word origins in the English language.

An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology

Anatoly Liberman is professor of Germanic philology at the University of Minnesota. He has published many works, including sixteen books, most recently Word Origins . . . and How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone.

An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology

Anatoly Liberman is one of the leading scholars in the field of English etymology. Undoubtedly his work will be an indispensable tool for the ongoing revision of the etymological component of the entries in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Bernhard Diensberg, OED consultant, French etymologies

An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology is one of the most important and exciting projects undertaken in recent years within the field of English language studies anywhere in the world.

Hans Frede Nielsen, University of Southern Denmark

Liberman’s attention to detail makes his Analytic Dictionary a monumental achievement.

Chicago Tribune

Scholarly, substantive and engaging. Word lovers will find the lengthy, involved articles on the number of particular familiar and few obscure words engaging. Most significantly for the field of etymology is his methodology; which is both rigorous and flexible in reaching probably attributions for word roots. With scientific method (as opposed to the frequent presumptions and conventions), literary (i.e., writing) and reasoning ability, and incomparable scholarship, Liberman charts new paths in the field of etymology.

The Midwest Book Review

The end result is a luxurious example of wordplay and academic achievement sure to delight.

The Bloomsbury Review

This reviewer got his quota of thrills abundantly filled by Liberman’s admirable and enduring product of what surely must have been many years of work. If this is truly An Introduction, we can all wait expectantly for the next selection from the author’s first-order scholarship.

Scandinavian Studies

Liberman’s encyclopedic grasp of the subject matter, together with that of the relevant literature, shine through on every page. Moreover, Liberman’s wit and eloquent writing skills make this volume a delight to read. This is the kind of work I wish had been available to me when I was doing research on distant linguistic relationship, and not just for English! When completed, Liberman’s dictionary is destined to become the most authoritative resource on the origin of English words that has yet appeared in print. No doubt, it will retain that distinction for many, many years to come, if not indefinitely.

Dictionaries

No other source compares to the depth that this book provides.

Reference Reviews

There is no question that the decision to gather all that has been written about each headword is of inestimable value. English etymology will be forever in Liberman’s debt. Amy doubts concern the inclusion of ‘pre-scientific’ or otherwise invalid suggestions and how the material is presented.

Nowele

Liberman’s Introduction is undoubtedly a piece of excellent scholarly work which became possible by a long and painstaking search for relevant etymological literature.

Anglia

Liberman’s dictionary is a totally new lexicographical model.

Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia