Free Online Etymology Dictionaries?


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hi all. Does anyone know of a decent etymology dictionary online? I found this site below but it seems "off" and lacking in detail when for instance looking up the word "pity". I would had hoping it would at least mention either the Greek or Latin roots, but it doesn't mention either or any other language.

Thank you in advance for any possible assistance while I keep on searching online. There doesn't seem to be much offered on Google on this when you search for "Etymology Dictionary" or "Etymology Dictionaries."

I also found this by searching for "word root dictionary" but the site doesn't seem functional. Only wants to try to find medical root words and even then the search function for it doesn't load since it is always stuck on "loading" (I've tested it with several different browsers, even the old IE11, as well but no luck):

Root Word Dictionary - The web's largest root dictionary!

I also found this but not free either and maybe if so, it seems you need to be living in the UK and have a UK library card:

Access the new OED Online free and from home using your local library's subscription. Nearly every public library in the United Kingdom now subscribes to the OED. Remote access means you can log-in at home—or anywhere at any time—using your library membership number. Find out more.

The OED is also available worldwide via the libraries of universities, colleges, schools, and others institutions. We offer 30-day trials of the new OED Online for non-subscribing institutions as well as personal subscriptions to the OED.

More details here:

How to subscribe to the OED

The Oxford English Dictionary is available by subscription to institutions and individuals.
We are pleased to offer annual individual OED subscriptions at a reduced rate of $90 in the US (usually $295) or £90 for the Rest of the World (usually £215) for annual subscriptions taken out until March 31 2021. For this annual rate, you’ll have full unrestricted access to the OED Online – including quarterly updates!


Individuals: inside North and South America

An individual subscription to the OED Online offers unrestricted access to more than 1,000 years of the English language.

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To subscribe online and take advantage of our special offer, please visit our personal subscription shop.

Details about individual OED subscriptions:

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Tried using the Yandex search engine with "Free Etymology Dictionary" and found this site but not much to see here either for English:

and this, but not much better:

OK, I just found a few that might be OK. This one below, the author stopped updating back in 2017:

And this one relative to all the free one's mentioned above so far seems the most detailed on the surfaces since it is multilingual, but it is missing the Greek root word of "pity", and perhaps this because there is none? I read here that "pathos" that was supposed to be part of root words for both the words Sympathy and Empathy but nothing about "pity" in that article and its relation to the word Sympathy that I thought was the cause from long ago:

The nouns share a common root: the Greek noun pathos, meaning "feelings, emotion, or passion." Pathos itself refers to the evocation of pity or compassion in a work of art or literature.

Anyways, before I run out of energy, here is the 'better' seeming site:

and the example:

From Middle English pitye, pitie, pittye, pitee, pite, from Anglo-Norman pité, pittee etc., from Old French pitet, pitié, from Latin pietās. See also the doublets pietà and piety."

I can play with those Etymological roots later for maybe a better "mosaic" understanding of the quote "pity those who pity" by the C"s because there is probably much more to it than just a simple and basic dictionary definitions you can find online in a few seconds. I have some ideas, and I 'think' I understand what they mean (for many years now), but now I am going to first put aside what I 'think' know and just look at all the root meanings first before any interpretive associations. Hopefully I don't fall into a 'pit' while at it! :lol:

Anyways, time for bed, but before I sign out, if anyone by any chance knows of a better Free online Etymology Dictionary than all of the one's mentioned above ( and others), can they please share it? Or again, maybe no choice but to go with paid version of Another example of "no free lunch" I think, and this time for me about figuring all this word root business it seems.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I have this book :
Word Origins.png

Here is a sample:
a, an [OE] The indefinite article in English is
ultimately identical with the word one (as is the
case, even more obviously, in other European
languages – French un, German ein, and so on).
The ancestor of both a(n) and one was ān, with a
long vowel, but in the Old English period it was
chiefly used for the numeral; where we would
use a(n), the Anglo-Saxons tended not to use an
article at all. Ān begins to emerge as the
indefinite article in the middle of the 12th
century, and it was not long before, in that
relatively unemphatic linguistic environment, its
vowel became weakened and shortened, giving
an. And at about the same time the distinction
between an and a began to develop, although
this was a slow process; until 1300 an was still
often used before consonants, and right up to
1600 and beyond it was common before all
words beginning with h, such as house.
aardvark aardvark see EARTH, FARROW
abacus [17] Abacus comes originally from a
Hebrew word for ‘dust’, ’ābāq. This was
borrowed into Greek with the sense of ‘drawing
board covered with dust or sand’, on which one
could draw for, among other purposes, making
mathematical calculations. The Greek word,
ábax, subsequently developed various other
meanings, including ‘table’, both in the literal
sense and as a mathematical table. But it was as
a ‘dust-covered board’ that its Latin descendant,
abacus, was first used in English, in the 14th
century. It was not until the 17th century that the
more general sense of a counting board or frame
came into use, and the more specific ‘counting
frame with movable balls’ is later still.
abandon [14] The Old French verb abandoner
is the source of abandon. It was based on a
bandon, meaning literally ‘under control or
jurisdiction’, which was used in the phrase
mettre a bandon ‘put someone under someone
else’s control’ – hence ‘abandon them’. The
word bandon came, in altered form, from Latin
bannum ‘proclamation’, which is circuitously
related to English banns ‘proclamation of
marriage’ and is an ancestor of contraband.

Contact me if you're interested.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
if anyone by any chance knows of a better Free online Etymology Dictionary than all of the one's mentioned above ( and others), can they please share it?
For alternatives, you might look up "best etymology sites" which for me gave two lists that might expand the possibilities, but if they are better, I don't know.
The Etymology Nerd has a list and includes:
Any serious etymological research has been published somewhere, and Google Scholar is the perfect tool to find it. Honestly, I have no idea how people got along without it before the Internet.
That is probably a good suggestion if one is keen on particular words and wishes to see the research including the accepted and discarded ideas.

A professor of linguistics and translator I once met argued that determining word origins can be a tricky affair. He convinced me, but where are the border for how far one can go? In one of the Sessions, there is the suggestion that VISA is 666:

Q: (L) What is the meaning of the number 666 in the book of Revelation?

A: Visa.

Q: (L) You mean as in credit card?

A: Yes.
A: Maybe. VI is 6 in Roman Numerals. S was 6 in ancient Egypt. A was 6 in Sanskrit. VISA, see, is 666. Interesting that to travel for extended periods one needs a "visa" also, yes?
This interpretation I could not yet find when looking up the word VISA. The Wiki for travel visa explains for instance: A visa (from the Latin charta visa, meaning "paper that has to be seen")[1]


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I have this one too:

Dictionary of Word Roots.png

Very different from the previous, it use a very compact annotated list of words. Sample:

a (G). Not, without; together
aapt, -o (G) . Unapproachable, invincible
ab, -s (L). Off, from, away
abact ( L). Driven away
abbreviat (L) . Shortened
abdicat ( L). Disinherit
abdit (L). Secret, hidden

Here (G) mean Greek, (L) Latin and so on...


The Living Force
FOTCM Member

Interesting. Here is the explanation from "Dictionary of Word Roots":
vis, -a, -i, -u (L). Look, see

And from "Words origins":
visa [19] A visa is etymologically something ‘seen’. The word comes via French visa from Latin vīsa, literally ‘things seen’, a noun use of
the neuter plural form of the past participle of vidēre ‘see’ (source of English vision, visit, etc). The notion underlying the word is that a visa is a note or other mark made on a passport to signify that it has been officially ‘seen’ or examined.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you all. I've bookmarked the suggestions and I've also noticed that I can get the kindle version of "Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms Kindle Edition" here:

And since not on kindle or paperback, the "Word Origins: The Secret History Of English Words From a to Z, 2nd" from chapters here:

I also see a listing of etymology info on "VISA" using in the following languages: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Indonesian, Latin, Lativan, Norwegeian Bokmal, Norwegian Nynorsk, Old Swedish, Pali, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swahili, and Swedish.

I think I might buy the Kindle version of the book mentioned above (thank you Ellipse), use, and also that the same time look up the word with the great online resource found by Maat above. This loosely and potentially triplicate utilization of resources should be OK for now, and I think it should give me TONS to play and ponder about when a word comes up that I want to look into much more thoroughly than usual. I will also keep in mind what Thorbiorn pointed out how deep I would want to look into words and what his friend suggested to him for practical purposes of time and energy.

Possibility of Being

FOTCM Member
I found this site below but it seems "off" and lacking in detail when for instance looking up the word "pity". I would had hoping it would at least mention either the Greek or Latin roots, but it doesn't mention either or any other language.

It doesn't?

pity (n.)

mid-13c., pite, "compassion, kindness, generosity of spirit;" c. 1300 "disposition to mercy, quality of being merciful," also "a feeling of sympathy and compassion aroused by the sorrow or suffering of another," from Old French pite, pitet "pity, mercy, compassion, care, tenderness; pitiful state, wretched condition" (11c., Modern French pitié), from Latin pietatem (nominative pietas) "piety, loyalty, duty" (see piety). Replaced Old English mildheortness, literally "mild-heartness," itself a loan-translation of Latin misericordia.

It is some comfort to receive commiseration or condolence ; it gives one strength to receive sympathy from a loving heart ; it is irksome to need compassion ; it galls us to be pitied. [Century Dictionary, 1895]

Middle English pity also could mean "devout obedience to God" (mid-14c.), and pity and piety were not fully distinguished until 17c. Transferred sense of "grounds or cause for pity, matter or source of grief or regret" is from late 14c.

pity (v.)

late 15c., pitien, "to feel pity for," from Old French pitier and from pity (n.). Meaning "excite pity in" is attested from 1510s, frequent 16c.-17c., in use as late as 1835, but now obsolete. Related: Pitied; pitying.

idiom (n.)

1580s, "form of speech peculiar to a people or place;" meaning "phrase or expression peculiar to a language" is from 1620s; from French idiome (16c.) and directly from Late Latin idioma "a peculiarity in language," from Greek idioma "peculiarity, peculiar phraseology" (Fowler writes that "A manifestation of the peculiar" is "the closest possible translation of the Greek word"), from idioumai "to appropriate to oneself," from idios "personal, private," properly "particular to oneself."

This is from PIE *swed-yo-, suffixed form of root *s(w)e-, pronoun of the third person and reflexive (referring back to the subject of a sentence), also used in forms denoting the speaker's social group, "(we our-)selves" (source also of Sanskrit svah, Avestan hva-, Old Persian huva "one's own," khva-data "lord," literally "created from oneself;" Greek hos "he, she, it;" Latin suescere "to accustom, get accustomed," sodalis "companion;" Old Church Slavonic svoji "his, her, its," svojaku "relative, kinsman;" Gothic swes "one's own;" Old Norse sik "oneself;" German Sein; Old Irish fein "self, himself").

Possibility of Being

FOTCM Member
Don't worry Saman, it happens. I've lost count of the times when I was looking for something that was starring at me and I just couldn't see it! :)
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