What resources help find the historical meanings of English words?


Quick Answer

Those interested in etymology, the history of words, should consult a dictionary or encyclopedia dedicated to the subject. The most authoritative source for English etymology is the Oxford English Dictionary, or OED.

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Full Answer

While the OED is considered the authority on etymology, membership fees are expensive. Online users can find a comparable collection of word histories for free at the Online Etymology Dictionary. Users just need to type a word in the search bar and click “ok” to find a complete history – including past and present meanings, as well as translations, date and usage – related to that particular word.

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