Learn Etymology

Learn about the etymology of the English language

Etymology is a fascinating subject. But if you're completely new to it, it can be difficult to know where to start. A lot of people start by just looking up words they're interested in in a good etymological dictionary (like www.etymonline.com). But why shouldn't there be some introductory information online somewhere, so that it's easier to get started? Well that's what this website is - an online textbook about etymology.

This online textbook has been written primarily for authors of fantasy and science fiction stories. Knowing about the etymology of the English language is very useful for designing invented languages, which is part of world-building. It's also useful for writing generally, as knowing the etymology of a word can impact word choice. However, this textbook has been written in a fairly general style, so it should be useful for anyone who's interested in etymology.

This online textbook is only intended as an introduction to etymology. This textbook looks at the origins of a collection of common prefixes and suffixes. It also looks at some of the Latin words that have influenced many modern English words. However, it can't look at the origins of all or even most words in modern English - there are just too many. But by the end of this textbook you should have the knowledge you need to continue learning about etymology on your own.


  1. What is etymology?
  2. The origins of the English language
  3. Getting started with some well-known suffixes: '-logy', '-nomy', '-metry'
  4. A Latin word that appears everywhere - facere