Etimology, the Origins of Words and Phrases

Etymology is the study of word origins. This law dictionary provides the etymological meaning and usage of more tha 1.000 legal terms, becoming a practical instrument for law students and professors that wish to know the origin, the symbolic and real meaning of legal english terminology.


Further Reading

  • The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, 1995. This is a reference source on word origin. It is several volumes long; for each word, it provides the definitions, the etymology, and several examples of historical usage which show how the word has changed over time.
  • American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. The Indo-European roots appendix to the American Heritage Dictionary is available as a separate volume. A solid, yet inexpensive resource if you want to trace an etymology to the earliest possible source.
  • Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origin. 2nd edition: Harper and Row, 1988. Provides the etymology of both words and phrases, and is more up-to-date than many similar sources.
  • Liberman, Anatoly. An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. Detailed analysis of 55 words of previously “unknown” etymology. The book thoroughly explores the etymology and scholarly history of that etymology for each word. It’s more valuable for the explication of the etymological process than for the scope of words covered.
  • Comments on Etymology. Edited by Gerald Leonard Cohen. Rolla, Mo.: Missouri University of Science and Technology. A monthly review of newly discovered citations and findings in etymology.
  • Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. University of Chicago Press, 1956. Though not especially current, this is still very useful, particularly for phrase origin; like the Oxford English Dictionary, it provides examples of historical usage, including first appearance in print.
  • Chantrell, Glynnis. The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Another etymological dictionary from Oxford University Press.
  • Dictionary of Contemporary Slang. London: Bloomsbury, 1997. Much more current than Partridge, but provides far less detail; it gives a definition of the phrase and its first appearance in print, but no extensive list of historical usage.
  • Durkin, Philip. The Oxford Guide to Etymology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. An introduction into the processes behind word formation.
  • Shipley, Joseph T. The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984. A dictionary of Indo-European roots of English words.

If the readers wish to locate similar books, they can be found under the 412’s in a public library, and the Library of Congress call numbers starting with PE 1000 in most university libraries. If the readers wish to look up similar titles in an on-line library catalog, the official Library of Congress Subject Headings under which they can be found are:

  • English language—Etymology—Dictionaries
  • English language—Words and Phrases
  • English language—Slang—Dictionaries