Books on English and Etymology

No fan of the history and development of English should be without these essential books:

Word Origins ... and How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone  Written in a funny, charming, and conversational style, Word Origins is the first book to offer a thorough investigation of the history and the science of etymology, making this little-known field accessible to everyone interested in the history of words. hardcover

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (Sep. 2000)  AHD's etymologies are useful and the table of Indo-European roots is a priceless reference tool; the extra usage and history notes are absorbing reading in their own right.  Some reviewers complain that the new CDRom is a disk hog and has an awkward user interface, and prefer the 1994 (3d) edition of the CD, which is available only in a combination package with the Hardcover.

CD only 

hardcover and CD package 

Calvert Watkins The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (2d ed. Sep. 2000) hardcover 

Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, Charles T. Onions ed. (July 1993)  Unmatched reference to trace the first appearance and subsequent nuances of words and phrases in English. hardcover 

"Concise" abridged paperback edition 

Ernest Weekley, An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English (1967) two volumes, paperback (A-K) 

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary/Book, Magnifying Glass and User's Guide  (Second edition 1991; CD edition v. 3.0 2002) This hardback is the complete OED printed nine pages to a sheet to reduce the original twenty volumes to not quite 2400 pages; this is THE encyclopedic work of English and its history, with detailed citations of word and phrase usage back to 1150 A.D.  The CD edition is on two disks, includes supplemental material to date, and is for Windows, but requires installation of software which is alleged to be spyware.

Essay collections by people who are goofy as I am about words

Martha Barnette Ladyfingers and Nun's Tummies : From Spare Ribs to Humble Pie-A Lightearted Look at How Food Got Their Names trade paperback (December 1998) Her earlier A Garden of Words is apparently out-of-print. 

Paul West The Secret Lives of Words hardcover (June 2000) 

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