1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Etymology

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are not to be regarded. (9) When words in two different languages are more nearly alike than the ordinary phonetic laws would allow, there is a strong probability that one language has borrowed the word from the other. Truly cognate words ought not to be too much alike. (10) It is useless to offer an explanation of an English word which will not also explain all the cognate forms” (Introduction to Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, 1898).

An English word is either “the extant formal representative or direct phonetic descendant of an earlier (Teutonic) word; or it has been adopted or adapted from some foreign language,” adoption being a popular, and adaptation being a literary or learned process; finally, there is formation, i.e. the “combination of existing words (foreign or native) or parts of words with each other or with living formatives, i.e. syllables which no longer exist as separate words, but yet have an appreciable signification which they impart to the new product” (see Introduction to the Oxford New English Dictionary, p. xx). A further classification of words according to their origin is that into (1) naturals, i.e. purely native words, like “mother,” “father,” “house”; (2) those which become perfectly naturalized, though of foreign origin, like “cat,” “mutton,” “beef”; (3) denizens, words naturalized in usage but keeping the foreign pronunciation, spelling and inflections, e.g. “focus,” “camera”; (4) aliens, words for foreign things, institutions, offices, &c., for which there is no English equivalent, e.g., menu, table d’hôte, impi, lakh, mollah, tarbush; (5) casuals, e.g., bloc, Ausgleich, sabotage, differing only from “aliens” in their temporary use. The full etymology of a word should include the phonetic descent, the source of the word, whether from a native or from a foreign origin, and, if the latter, whether by adoption or adaptation, or, if a formed word, the origin of the parts which go to make it up. In the present edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica such full etymologies, which would be necessary and in place in an etymological dictionary, have not been given in every instance, but brief etymological notes are appended, showing in outline the sources and history, and in many cases the development in meaning. (See also Dictionary.)