Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
Keep it in the kitchen
We have had a copy of the Oxford Etymological Dictionary in our kitchen for past several years because over the dinner table, inevitably, one of our children asks, "where does that word come from?" We were tired of running in and out of the living room to find out. Now it has become a game -- who can come up with a probable root before whoever is looking it up finds the real answer. No, we don't home school. Our children are still young -- 12 and 9. I have occasionally caught my 12 year old just wallowing in this book, and she is normal in every other way.
Don't compromise because something seems a little difficult to access! The more you use it, the more comfortable you'll be with it. This, along with S.I. Hayakawa's Choose the Right Word, are two veritable smorgasbords for word lovers. A good atlas is a good thing to have on hand as well.
Oxford is the best - by a whisker.
Other reviewers claim that the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology is a better book than the Oxford Dictionary of Etymology. I must disagree. I was recently in a bookstore that had both in stock, and I was able to compare the two. Overall, I found the Chambers to be less informative than the Oxford book.
Admittedly, I did not have the time to compare a lot of entries, but the few words I did look up showed a pattern that was hard to dismiss. In all of the cases that I saw, the Oxford dictionary included much more of the history of the word and often went back to the Latin root as well as proposing possible alternate developments of the word. The Chambers dictionary, on the other hand, tended to trace a more linear path and often only went as far back as the Old English or Old French root.
While the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology is a very clear and concise work..., I feel the Oxford Dictionary of Etymology has a slight advantage in precision and depth. Perhaps (as one reviewer has stated) the Chambers has more entries overall, but I feel this has come at the price of a lack of depth of history behind each entry. The Oxford book may have less entries, but each entry contains all the information anyone would ever need.
All in all, I think both books are way ahead of their competitors, but if you want the ultimate in depth, go for the Oxford publication. If you want a good dictionary of etymology at a reasonable price, get the Chambers book.
Oxford Disctionary of English Etymology
This book could be useful for a serious etymologyst, but it is very difficult to decifer unless you are willing to spend hours learning all of the abbreviations. It is organized like a dictionary. The entries give the current dictionary definition of each word, and then proceed to trace the evolution of the word. This evolution is often difficult to understand because of the previously mentioned abbreviations. This book is for a dedicated linguist, or someone with much patience and time