the Etymologie (of old-Greek ετυμολογία, etymología - out έτυμος, étymos - „truly, really, genuine “and λόγος, lógos „the word, the teachings, the customer “) is a branch of science, which fathoms the origin of the words, and thus like itself their meaning andForm developed. One was original thereby on the search for the “true meaning” of the words.

Deviating of the actual importance one uses the word also for „linguistic origin, language change “, z. B. The Etymologie of the word shows….

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that Etymologie researches?

In each word are inseparably into one another interlaced sound shape, meaning and use. Each of these components is temporally and locally changes suspended (from generation to generation, from place to place, from person to person, in different periods of life). Therefore itself the search must after the “Etymon” of a word also with the change concern, to which it was from the beginning local and temporally subjected. To that extent Etymologie looks for not normative “prescribing” an obligatory target („now and always only correctly “), but gathers descriptively “describing” traces(„there and at that time in such a way spoken and so meant “).

history of the Etymologie


already in the Greek antiquity gave it philosophical currents, which followed to the “correctness” of the “names”. However usually became for this activitynot the term “Etymologie” uses. Thus already asked itself Heraklit of Ephesos (around 500 v.Chr.) in what respect the name of a thing the truth of a thing shows. Thus, in what respect the name in reality corresponds to an article. Later Platon in its was occupiedDialogue Kratylos in detail with the correctness of the names. In this dialogue Platon a representative lets mystisch religious thesis - all words would not have their meaning by nature and would require a definition - begin to that against a representative of the rather modern, in Kratylos testified for the first time Gegenthese, the connection of words and their importance are based on arbitrary definition by humans.
Also different cultures, in particular such with long writing tradition as in India and China, were occupied very early with Etymologie, thosethem among other things an understanding of the delivered texts to make possible should.

we find the Middle Ages the high point „of the truth-looking for Etymologie with Isidor of Sevilla at the beginning 7. Jh. n.Chr., thus in the early Middle Ages. In its Hauptwerk Etymologiae libri vigintiit gives numerous examples of Etymologien, which are not under any circumstances historically begründbar however. Isidor of Sevilla gave many (historically seen unfounded) Etymologien, in order to explain things understandably. For example: „persona Exegese, Physiologus est, (the animal names from the word shape tooexplains searches), or the Legenda aurea, which dedicates to its name before the Vita of a holy one first broad attention.


nowadays is Etymologie within the historically comparing linguistics the discipline, which emergence and historical change of individual wordsseeks out and in etymologischen dictionaries holds. Historical linguistics looks for recurring features of the language change and derives from them sound laws, which for its part facilitate it to observe for changes of a word in run history. Additionally to the purely linguistic occupation with Etymologiethe languagehistorical research in addition use for the more exact understanding of texts brings. A further area of application insists in the transmission of the results on the archaeology. Here languagehistorical conditions reference points for different archaeological questions can supply, so for instance in the case of the reconstructionof earlytemporal migration movements.

Etymologie in science and society

in the context of the linguistics is the occupation with Etymologie primarily self purpose, i.e., it is considered as interesting enough, more over the individual phenomena of the historical change of oneTo find out language. From in such a way won knowledge one expects in addition to receive an extended understanding over the history of the development of a single language as well as the circumstances of the language change generally. The classical understanding of the Etymologie and practical applications as mentioned stand abovemostly in the background. In the everyday, non-scientific occupation with Etymologie however the normative character of the early Etymologie kept more or less pronounced. Thus approximately on the basis the history of a word that a certain, modern use way is demonstrated wronglyis, since it does not correspond to the historical, and/or. not to the actual word meaning obviously becoming in word history orients itself.

Representatives of a weakened variant of this argument reject the modern word meaning not in principle, expect however from the occupationwith the history of the development of a word new aspects for an understanding of its meaning. Here is assumed these further aspects in the course of the time were as it were buried and by languagehistorical investigations again show up. This is justified thereby,that thinking only in the pictures of the perception as image of the reality to take place knows and thus alone already the perception and in the consequence also thinking both of the conscious as well as of unconscious contents of a term like alsoits shape is coined/shaped. The Etymologie is seen to the perception and thinking here as way to make these unconscious parts perceptible and lost gone contents to open again. So is - completely in the tradition of antique philosophers -Contribution for the wealth of the language and thinking to be carried out.

Independently of the question whether the word-historical derivation stated in each case is contentwise correct or comes not, a representative of both views then into contradiction to modern linguistic basic assumptions, if it on oneconfine and direct relationship between a mental concept and the shape of the word, with which it is expressed, to exist. The functional opinion of the linguistics opposes this view that a concrete word form keeps its meaning exclusive by convention. For itselftook a word thus no actual meaning and effect except that, which result in the respective present from the usual use. The existence beyond that the word in any way still additionally attaching meaning, which one inany form to find out could or should, is doubted. On such an assumption the interpretations of the word meaning stated by „the normative “Etymologen cannot stress any more validity for itself than each alternatively suggested new interpretation also.

Etymologi explanations become beyond that alsofrequently consulted for the Untermauerung of nationalistic ideologies. Thereby for example the alleged superiority of the own culture is proven on the basis its effect on the vocabulary of another language „“, or desired relational relations of two cultures from an assumed language relationship is reconstructed.


an amazing example from the etymologischen research are the origin of the word traffic light: The traffic light developed indirectly from the Greek word αμφορεύς (amphoreús) ‚zweihenkliger jug `: Hievon was derived latin word ampulla, thatone then again into the old high German taken (see leaning word). Out ampulla ward by changes of sound in the course of the time traffic light. The traffic light was thus a container like the Amphore. It was filled in the Middle Ages with oil and served as eternalLight in churches. Later hanging sky lights in dwellings than traffic light were designated. Today the traffic light is well-known as flare signal in the traffic. Still in the 60's of the last century a traffic light was a thing with four, hanging over a crossingclock-similar sides, on those a white pointer in constantly slow motion red (stop!) and becomes green (drive!) Fields re-painted over; these were from the inside lit. Here the meaning core becomes ‚hanging lighting `still clearly. The word has a Metonymie (see.Meaning change) experience.In addition, the word ‚traffic light `is used for other hanging containers, approximately for hanging up plants (flower traffic light).


Volksetymologie is shortened, because proceeding word history " (Jost Trier). It is led the connections that from the need,Words to explain and goes thereby occasionally the unscientific way, in order to serve stranger of words the vernacular discussion-fairly. Example: Lat.arcuballista ‚elbow centrifuge' ward in the old French to arbaleste, from that the German the arm chest took, whereby the component „chest “ofmhd.berost ‚armament' is due. It acts thus fact in accordance with around an arm weapon.

Also contentwise reinterpretations are possible. Intact means actually ‚unaffected' (lat. puella intacta). Nowadays applies however also a machine, which functions perfectly as intact in the sense of ‚incorrect clock working `.

A further salient example of Volksetymologie is the word hammock, which is not derived by any means from „hanging mat “, but from the Indian word hamaka (see. therefore English. hammock).

Further examples: Mole, much-ate, Tollpatsch.

Tollpatsch because of the volksetymologischen reinterpretation, it come from mad and leaves in the lurch, during the spelling reform from 1996 even the orthography changed. It comes from the Hungarian word talpas (pointed name for the Hungarian foot soldier).

those used

areas Semasiologie is within the semiotic the theory of the word meanings. The name research (Onomastik) deals particularly with history, meaning and spreading of names, and the Toponomastik is occupied particularly with place names.

see also


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Wiktionary: Etymologie - word origin, synonyms and translations

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