The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology Hardcover – 26 May 1966
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ODEE is going to be, as it deserves to be, the standard etymological dictionary of the English language. (Times Literary Supplement)
This is a very fine etymological dictionary, as aromatic a piece of lexicography as the great Onions (who, sadly died while the work was going through the press) ever achieved Anyone who wants to take journeys back through the mazes of the fickle human mind cannot very well do without this volume. (Anthony Burgess, Observer)
From the Back Cover
The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology is the most comprehensive etymological dictionary of the English language ever published. It is based on the original edition of The Oxford English Dictionary but much augmented by further research on the etymology of English and other languages.See all Product description
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There are a few downsides to this book though. Firstly it was published in 1966 (46 years ago) and it badly needs updating. English has changed a great deal since 1966, and the lack of modern words and modern meanings is frustrating. I don't spend my time looking up rude words, but it is noticeable that there are no swear words in this dictionary.
There are frequent times when words are written in ancient Greek, which I imagine a more modern audience might struggle with.
There are too many abbreviations, which can make understanding some descriptions difficult. In some cases it isn't immediately clear whether words in the descriptions are translations of an ancient word or part of the author's explanation for the etymology.
It is extremely expensive for what it is.
If you realise that the dictionary has a few shortcomings, and money is no object for you, then I recommend buying it. It is probably the only book I own that I could never get bored of reading.
However, by the time I have studied a lot from this book, I realized that It had contained a lot of abbreviations and something difficult to understand at the beginner's level.
Not only that, but It would seem that It was written a long time ago and did not update new words which has recently formed and defined.
Nevertheless, I think that It is still a good read to look up when you wonder the origin of words. On a personal note, I place this book besdie my bed.
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