Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search
Accessories-text-editor.svg This is a Wiktionary policy, guideline or common practices page. This is a draft proposal. It is unofficial, and it is unknown whether it is widely accepted by Wiktionary editors.


Etymology is the study of the origins of words. The vocabularies of modern languages come from a variety of different sources: some have evolved from older words, others have been borrowed from foreign languages, and some have been named from people, developed from initialisms, or even have been deliberately invented by a certain author. Etymology sections in entries of the English-language Wiktionary provide factual information about the way a word has entered the language and usually some sense of its semantic development.


Etymology sections should not be too verbose, particularly because they appear before the definitions; usually a simple list of previous forms is all that is required. They should, of course, be based on reliable sources but should not be copied verbatim from another source.

Some words may also benefit from further details, such as cognate words in related languages, or some illustrative comments.

There is currently no standard for longer discussions of etymology.


Include the etymology on the main entry (the lemma), even if historically it derived from another form, such as by back-formation.

Folk etymologies

Folk etymologies should not usually be discussed in entries. However where the folk etymology is widespread, it may be discussed. However priority should go to the 'correct' etymology, with the folk etymology kept brief to avoid the etymology section becoming unnecessarily long. Unreasonably long material may be moved to the talk page, where it can be discussed at length.

Surface etymologies

Etymologies trace the historical development of words, not simply an analysis of their current (“surface”) forms. For example, astrology comes from Ancient Greek ἀστρολογία (astrología) (via Latin), though its surface form can be analyzed as astro- (stars) + -logy (study of), as the components are valid English combining forms. Conversely, biology does not come from an Ancient Greek term, but is rather a classical compound, coined c. 1800.

Analyses of surface forms are of value, but do not replace and should not be confused with an account of historical development. For example, the entry for astrology should not read *“From astro- + -logy”, but should instead read “From Latin astrologia (astronomy), …. Surface analysis astro- + -logy.”

Phrases, Compounds, Acronyms, and Abbreviations

For a term that is composed of base words separated by spaces or hyphens, do not add an etymology that just notes the base words. This can be better shown by wikilinking the term in the inflection line. The English term computer language, for instance currently has no etymology, and the base words are linked to with the inflection line template {{en-noun|head=[[computer]] [[language]]}}. Similarly, the etymology of acronyms or abbreviations is simply the definition, and no separate etymology is necessary.

Conversely, for compounds – a single word without spaces or hyphens, such as endgame – a brief etymology section using {{compound}} is useful, as wikilinking the components in the headline of the entry does not distinguish the components (it would just appear to be a single clickable link).

However, if some etymology would prove useful, it should be included – for example, history of usage or coinage, such as SNAFU (coined during WWII for the chaos of war), or explanations of set phrases or idioms such as hair of the dog (hangover cure, from folk remedy for rabies), or the origin of a proverb or word that can be traced to a particular source or sources such as fortis Fortuna adiuvat (fortune favors the bold).

Etymology jargon

Some words have conventional usage in etymology:

Using a bare “from” denotes a single step, with no intermediate steps – a direct descendant or borrowing – as in: “From French, from Latin, from Proto-Indo-European”
ultimately from
Using “ultimately from” indicates that some intermediate steps have been elided, as in “Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European” (but by some other languages in between).
akin / related
The term “akin” is used to indicate an attested word that is presumed to be etymologically related, when the ultimate etymon is not attested. This is used particularly for proto-languages, for language groups, and for unattested terms in attested languages.
  • For example, in tracing an English word back to Proto-Indo-European (which is not attested), presumed cognates of the Old English word can be referred to as “from Old English X, akin to Old High German Y, Latin Z, etc.”
  • Similarly, if a word can be traced back to an indeterminate Germanic language, one can give examples of related attested words, but not state a specific etymon (because unknown), writing for instance “of Germanic origin; akin to Old Saxon X” (but might be from Old Frisian or another language).
  • “Akin” can also be used when the specific etymon is not attested in an otherwise attested language, for example: “connive: ultimately from Latin com- (together) + base akin to nictō (I wink)” (but *nivō is not attested).
  • "Akin" is a weaker claim than "cognate to". The former only implies relationship in some, possibly so far undertermined fashion, while the latter is commonly understood to imply descent from a common ancestor.


Etymologies should be referenced if possible, ideally by footnotes within the “Etymology” section, secondarily just by listing references in the “References” section. The Reference templates are useful in this regard.

If a term descends from a common root with other terms in related languages, and a page exists for the reconstructed proto-form, references about the reconstruction are best placed on that page, and not duplicated in the cognate entries.

Layout: Borrowed or inherited words

There are numerous types of word origins, including borrowing and word formation mechanisms, followed by processes of lexical change, notably sound change and semantic change. These can be formatted in conventional ways, as detailed below.

From vs symbol

Some editors use the word “from” to separate ancestors, while others use the algebraic “<”. The symbol “<” implies an arrow that points in the direction of language change. There is currently no consensus on a preferred form, but a majority of editors prefers "from" over "<"[1].

Inherited words

A significant category of words in a language are the so-called ‘native’ or ‘inherited’ words; in some languages, but not all, they form the majority of words. This means that they have developed from an earlier form of the language which may or may not have gone by the same name. Some of these ancestor-languages were written down and are well-attested, but others are not. For example, French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese all developed from Latin. The French word clef, for instance, and the Spanish word llave both evolved from the Latin word clāvis (key) (they are cognates). They were not borrowed from Latin; the Latin language evolved naturally in different areas into the different forms.

The ancestors of English are, in order: Middle English, Old English, Proto-Germanic, and Proto-Indo-European, and native words are those that came from these ancestors, without at any stage being borrowed from a different language, nor by being borrowed from an ancestor at a later time.

One should show the complete sequence of ancestors if possible, not just the immediately preceding form.

To specify the source language from which a term originates, use {{etyl}}, and use {{term}} to link to the original word itself. See Templates, below, for details. If an ancestor had the same meaning as the descendant, it does not require a gloss in {{term}}, but if the meaning changed, one should gloss the ancestor, showing the earlier meaning.

For native words, you can show the sequence of ancestors in one of the following ways, as in father:


From {{etyl|enm|en}} {{term|fader|lang=enm}}, from {{etyl|ang|en}} {{term|fæder|lang=ang}},
 from {{etyl|gem-pro|en}} {{term/t|gem-pro|*fadēr}}, from {{etyl|ine-pro|en}} {{term/t|ine-pro|*ph₂tḗr}}.
From Middle English fader, from Old English fæder, from Proto-Germanic *fadēr, from Proto-Indo-European *ph₂tḗr.


From {{etyl|enm|en}} {{term|fader|lang=enm}} < {{etyl|ang|en}} {{term|fæder|lang=ang}}
< {{etyl|gem-pro|en}} {{term/t|gem-pro|*fadēr}} < {{etyl|ine-pro|en}} {{term/t|ine-pro|*ph₂tḗr}}.
From Middle English fader < Old English fæder < Proto-Germanic *fadēr < Proto-Indo-European *ph₂tḗr.

See also #From vs symbol.

The initial ancestor can be prefaced by “From” (not “<”), assuming it is different from the current form, but some editors prefer not to preface it by “From”.

Even if the current form is identical to an earlier form, the same format should be used, so that identically spelled words in earlier language can be linked. For example, in when, while we don’t yet have a entry for the Middle English word, we may in the future, and thus a link should be created, giving the following format:

From {{etyl|enm|en}} {{term|when|lang=enm}} from {{etyl|ang|en}} {{term|hwænne|lang=ang}}.
From Middle English when from Old English hwænne.

Reconstructed terms

In some cases, the ancestor terms were not recorded. The most recent ancestor language to English, German, Swedish and Dutch, which was spoken around the same time as Classical Latin, was not written down. We call it Proto-Germanic, because it developed into the various Germanic languages, of which English is one. Many words from this language can be inferred with great confidence by comparing the surviving forms in daughter languages. Some terms may be unattested in an otherwise known and attested language. For example, many Latin terms were newly developed and came to be used by the common people of the late Roman Empire, yet scribes did not write them down as they were colloquial rather than literary. We call these terms Vulgar Latin and they form the basis of the modern Romance languages.

Because reconstructed terms are not attested, there are different rules for them. They must always be preceded by an asterisk * to indicate that they are reconstructed, and entries for reconstructed terms are not allowed in the main namespace. Adding * before a reconstructed term ensures that the links point to the right place.

Some examples:

{{etyl|gem-pro|en}} {{term|*dagaz||day|lang=gem-pro}}


Proto-Germanic *dagaz (day)
{{etyl|VL.|en}} {{term|*interrō|lang=la}}


Vulgar Latin *interrō

The inclusion of cognate words in related languages is particularly useful for inherited words, since they show how the same original form has developed in different daughter languages.

In the entry hound:

{{etyl|ang|en}} {{term|hund|lang=ang}}, from {{etyl|gem-pro|en}} {{term|*hundaz|lang=gem-pro}}. Cognate with Dutch {{term|hond|lang=nl}}, German {{term|Hund|lang=de}}, Swedish {{term|hund|lang=sv}}.
Old English hund, from Proto-Germanic *hundaz. Cognate with Dutch hond, German Hund, Swedish hund.


See also: w:Loanword

Some words have been borrowed from other languages, either because of a historical occupation or co-existence, or simply through exposure to other languages. For example, the English word chasm is borrowed from Latin chasma, which itself was borrowed from Ancient Greek χάσμα (khásma, a cleft, abyss). Borrowings can be ancient or recent. When words are first borrowed into a language they may still ‘seem’ foreign; examples in English include Schadenfreude or ersatz. After a while they become more naturalised—like French borrowings from the last century such as naïve or detour. Eventually they seem completely native, such as leg or table (borrowed from Old Norse and Latin respectively).

Beware to differentiate Ancient Greek, using the language code grc for Ancient Greek, as in {{etyl|grc|en}}, not the code el, which is for Modern Greek.

Estimate of English word origins, showing roughly equal proportions of French, Latin, Germanic, and other.

Key waves of borrowings into English are from Old Norse (non), Anglo-Norman (xno), and Middle French (frm) in the 14th century. See English language: Word origins for discussion.

Many words in English are also ultimately of French (fr), Latin (la; see Latin influence in English), and Ancient Greek (grc) origin, but often not directly.

While there are some borrowing from modern French, such as boulevard, many terms are instead from Middle French, or from Old French (fro) via Anglo-Norman. Many terms of Latin origin entered English via French, while many terms of Ancient Greek origin entered English via Latin or French or both; see also Stages of Latin, below. Further, many terms with Latin or Ancient Greek etymologies are not borrowings from ancient languages, but instead are classical compounds – modern coinages based on nativized combining forms. For example, biology is not borrowed from Ancient Greek, but is coined from bio- + -logy.

In addition, in modern times especially, English has borrowed from a great many languages.

Stages of Latin

Further, it is useful to differentiate which stage of Latin a borrowing is from – Classical Latin (la), followed by Late Latin (written) (LL. 3rd c.–6th c.) and Vulgar Latin (spoken) (VL. 3rd c.–9th c.), Medieval Latin (ML. 6th c.–c. 1500), and New Latin (NL. c.1500–1900). These non-ISO codes are used only in {{etyl}} – the lang argument to {{term}} should still be la – for example angel contains:

{{etyl|LL.|en}} {{term|angelus|lang=la}}

which yields:

Late Latin angelus

Note also that Vulgar Latin terms are generally not attested, hence the reconstructed terms should be linked to with an asterisk, as in rascal:

{{etyl|VL.|en}} {{term/t|la|*rasicō||scrape}}

which yields:

Vulgar Latin *rasicō (scrape)

See Wiktionary:Dialects for details on these codes.

Differentiate borrowings

If any step of a word’s history is a borrowing, this step should be flagged as such; in English, any word not from Middle English, from Old English, from Proto-Germanic, from Proto-Indo-European, is at some stage a borrowing.

Languages may borrow from an ancestor at a later date: for example, the two Spanish words palabra (word) and parábola (parable) both come from Latin parabola, but the former was a natural development (hence ‘native’), whereas the latter was borrowed back into Spanish much later (in the fifteenth century in this case).


In the entry parábola:

Borrowed from {{etyl|LL.|es}} {{term|parabola|lang=la}}, from {{etyl|grc|es}}
{{term|παραβολή|lang=grc}}.  Compare {{term|palabra|lang=es}}.
Borrowed from Late Latin parabola, from Ancient Greek παραβολή (parabolḗ). Compare palabra.

Borrowed forms

A form of a word may be borrowed, in which case one should say “From Xus, form of X”, where Xus is the form, and X is the lemma.

See Wiktionary:Lemmas for which form of a verb is the lemma in various languages; notably for Latin, the lemma is the first principal part, the first person present indicative, such as portō (I carry), rather than the infinitive (such as portāre (to carry)), which is the lemma in English.

Beware that a form may be borrowed, and then other forms created by regular formation or back-formation, while in other cases different forms may be borrowed independently, as in the below example: stimulate was borrowed into English from Latin stimulatus, derived from Latin stimulus, while this latter was also borrowed into English as stimulusstimulus/stimulate are not formed from each other in English by a regular rule or back-formation.


In the entry stimulate:

From {{etyl|la|en}} {{term/t|la|stimulātus}}, perfect passive participle of
{{term/t|la|stimulō||goad on}}, from {{etyl|la|en}}
From Latin stimulātus, perfect passive participle of stimulō (goad on), from Latin stimulus (goad).

Modern form

When listing a borrowing from an old language, it is useful to list the modern inherited cognate in daughter languages of the original language. For example, in English they, one may write:

From Old Norse þeir (Icelandic þeir, Swedish de, Danish de, Norwegian Bokmål de, Norwegian Nynorsk dei).

Displaced native words

Borrowings may displace a native word, rather than providing a new word; this may also occur with new coinages. If this is so, one may list the displaced word in the etymology section, provided that this does not make the etymology unnecessarily long. Examples include English uncle (replaced eme) and French renard (fox) (replaced goupil).

Layout: Word formation

Inflected forms

See also: w:Inflection

For words that are not considered separate lemmas, but rather inflected forms of another word, etymologies are not usually added. This includes plural forms, inflected verb forms, case forms and so on. In such words, the etymology is usually implicit in the definition of the form, and should not be stated separately. If the formation is irregular in some way (such as her from she), an etymology might be useful, however.

Affixation and compounds

Wikipedia has an article on:


If a word is formed by a regular rule, such as adding an affix, it is preferred not to repeat the complete details of the base word’s origin on the page for the derived or inflected form: simply show the rule, and leave the more informative etymology for the lemma of the base word.

The templates {{prefix}} and {{suffix}} (with the arguments t1 and t2 for translation if components are not clear) are useful for this, and place entries into the correct categories (“words prefixed/suffixed with …”), as in the following entry for abstractly:

From {{suffix|abstract|ly|lang=en}}.
From abstract +‎ -ly.

A compound word is a word composed of two or more smaller words, but used as a single unit, like science fiction or website. For these, the etymology can simply be {{compound|A|B}}.


Conversely, words that look like a regular formation can have the formation reversed (especially, removing apparent affixes), yielding a new word. This is called back-formation, and the template {{back-form}} helps here.

Not to be confused with clipping, which is just a shortening of a word, not the undoing of a formation, and does not change the meaning or part of speech.

Note that back-formations are generally the lemma entry, and should have the more informative etymology, rather than relegating the earlier etymology to the etymon.


In the entry greed:

Back-formation from greedy.

Blends (portmanteau words)

Wikipedia has an article on:


A blend or portmanteau word is a word which was originally formed by combining two other words. For example, brunch is a blend of breakfast and lunch.


In the entry brunch:

Blend of breakfast and lunch.

Coined expressions

In some historically recent cases where words have been deliberately created, we may be able to give details of where and by whom this was done. Where possible, the reasoning behind the coinage should be suggested, however note that this will properly be conjectural unless it has been documented by the word’s original creator.

If the original coinage is attested, common practice is to include the relevant quotation in the etymology, and link to a source, if possible, as in serendipity or portmanteau word.


In the entry hobbit:

Coined by [[w:J. R. R. Tolkien|J.R.R. Tolkien]] in 1937.
Ostensibly from {{etyl|ang|en}} {{term|holbytla||hole-builder|lang=ang}}.
Coined by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1937. Ostensibly from Old English holbytla (hole-builder).

In the entry chortle:

Coined by [[w:Lewis Carroll|Lewis Carroll]] in ''[[w:Jabberwocky|Jabberwocky]]'',
apparently as a {{blend|chuckle|snort|nocap=1|lang=en}}.
Coined by Lewis Carroll in Jabberwocky, apparently as a blend of chuckle and snort.


For calques or loan translations it is necessary to provide the source language out of which the lexeme, compound or a phrase has been calqued. Sometimes the exact source of calque cannot be established due to its spread among several languages, in which case several notable examples should be listed. The template {{calque}} should be used, which automatically cagetorizes the term as [[Category:<Language-name> calques]]


In the entry antibody:

{{calque|anti-|body|etyl lang=de|etyl term=Antikörper|lang=en}}.

anti- +‎ body, a calque of German Antikörper.


For acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations that have a foreign origin, such as qv or cf, an etymology section should describe the foreign expansion. For native acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations (including single letters used symbolically), the definitions are simply the expanded terms. A separate etymological section for each meaning is therefore unnecessary, and multiple senses should be grouped together under the same L3 header. A generic etymology section can be used to separate abbreviation definitions from non-abbreviated definitions. See A for an example.

Layout: Phrases

For phrases, which are terms that consist of several words, no special etymology is needed. For convenience, the individual terms in the headword are often linked to their respective entries, like so:

{{en-verb|head={{l|en|give}} {{l|en|up}}|gives up|giving up|gave up|given up}}
give up (third-person singular simple present gives up, present participle giving up, simple past gave up, past participle given up)

Note that if a phrase is actually a compound word, an etymology with {{compound}} (see above) should also be provided to show that the term is a compound, and to add the term to the appropriate category.

For phrases that have more complicated origins, an etymology may be useful. This applies in particular to idiomatic phrases that cannot be interpreted literally by the sum of their parts, such as rain cats and dogs. For idiomatic phrases in languages other than English, the etymology can be used to provide the literal translation of the phrase.

Further details

In addition to etymology, one may provide years and location of origin, cognates, and glosses in the etymology section.

Year and location

In addition to which etymon a word comes from, it is useful to state when and where the word came into use – specifically when it is first attested, and location of origin, if known (e.g., US vs. UK, region). For example, palooka is of US 1920s origin. This can and should be brief – “US 1920s” is preferred to “First attested in the United States in the 1920s period”. Further, one should state (briefly) when (and how) other senses came into use, if they differ from earlier meanings.


Cognates are not strictly part of the etymology of a word, but can provide useful context, as well as serve as a mnemonic device.

The inclusion of cognate words is allowed only for inherited words, deriving from the same etymon in the ancestor languages, since they show how the same original form has developed in different daughter languages. This is especially useful for words whose ancestor form is not attested, and where regular sound correspondences can be observed.

For borrowed words, one may instead list the modern form (inherited cognate) in daughter languages of the original language. For example, in English they, one may write: “From Old Norse þeir (Icelandic þeir, Swedish de, Danish de, Norwegian Bokmål de, Norwegian Nynorsk dei)”.

Cognates can be listed at the end of the etymology as: “Cognate to lang. term.” One may use the template {{etyl|lang|-}} (with “-” for the second argument), which displays and links the language without classifying as a derivation.

Care should be taken however:

  1. Not to overburden the etymology section with too many cognates. One example from a major branch of the immediate ancestor should suffice, with at most 4-5 cognates listed. Users can always look up more cognates descending from the attested or reconstructed form in the corresponding etymon's ====Descendants==== section, or the page of a reconstructed ancestor.
  2. Not to significantly mix cognates diachronically, by listing cognates of modern languages in the etymology section of ancient languages, or by listing cognates of ancient languages in the etymology section of modern languages. Ancient languages should thus prefer ancient cognates, and modern languages should prefer modern cognates. E.g. in case of the Indo-European language family that means Ancient Greek, Latin, Old Church Slavonic, Sanskrit/Avestan/Old Persian, Lithuanian/Old Prussian, Gothic, Old Irish, Tocharian, Old Anatolian (Hittite, Luwian, Palaic) and Old Armenian. Exceptions are "single-language" families (e.g. Armenian, Albanian), and cases where there is no ancient but only modern cognate attested, usually occurring in case of languages that were attested relatively lately (e.g. Lithuanian, Albanian) and these are allowed to list ancient languages as cognates.

These are general guidelines and individual language/language-family policies take precedence over them.

Additional notes for the Indo-Europen languages:

  • Ancient languages of large sub-branches (Indo-Iranian, Germanic, Balto-Slavic) should list both their ancient language cognates of the same branch, and the ancient Indo-European cognates.
  • In case of ancient languages, Old English (Anglo-Saxon) is an exception and should always be listed if it is a cognate, including the modern-English reflex in parentheses.
  • Special care should be taken to always mutually link cognates of "classical" ancient Indo-European languages: Sanskrit (Vedic), Latin and Ancient Greek.


In some cases where the semantic development is not obvious, some explanatory comments may be useful. The more concise and efficient, the better.


In the entry trilby:

From the stage adaptation of [[w:George du Maurier|George du Maurier]]’s novel
''[[w:Trilby (novel)|Trilby]]'', in which such hats were worn.
From the stage adaptation of George du Maurier’s novel Trilby, in which such hats were worn.

In the entry sybarite:

From {{etyl|la|en}} {{term|Sybarita|lang=la}}, from {{etyl|grc|en}}
{{term|Συβαρίτης||inhabitant of Subaris|lang=grc}}, from {{term|Σύβαρις||Sybaris|lang=grc}}, an ancient Greek city in southeastern
Italy noted for the luxurious, pleasure-seeking habits of many of its inhabitants
From Latin Sybarita, from Ancient Greek Συβαρίτης (Subarítēs, inhabitant of Subaris), from Σύβαρις (Súbaris, Sybaris), an ancient Greek city in southeastern Italy noted for the luxurious, pleasure-seeking habits of many of its inhabitants

Many editors prefer "from" over "<", as in "{{term|Sybarita|lang=la}}, from {{etyl|grc|en}}": see #From vs symbol.


Complementary to etymology (going backwards) is descent and derivation (going forwards): as per WT:ELE, please link back descended terms in the “Descendants” L4 heading of the ancestor term, and likewise for derived terms is the “Derived terms” L4 heading: descendants are terms either inherited or borrowed into another language, while derived terms are terms in the same language which derive from a given term.

Closely etymologically related terms in the same language should be listed instead at “Related terms”, and there should be links both ways, as this is a sibling relationship; related terms in other languages are instead handled as cognates in the etymology section, or as descendants of a common ancestor term.

Proposals for the format of the descendants section are discussed at Wiktionary talk:Descendants, and a specific format policy is at WT:Latin: Descendants, but as of this writing, there is no detailed general policy. You may use {{l}} to create a link to the correct language. Narrowly, you may wish to distinguish inherited terms from borrowings by suffixing the latter with “(borrowed)”, and list descendants at the form from which they are descended (rather than the lemma), but this is at discretion.


Etymology language templates

To specify the source language and add it to the correct derivation category, one can use the template {{etyl}}, together with a language code. These are generally ISO 639-1 and 639-3 codes of two and three letter but Wiktionary:Language codes explains the full policy and Wiktionary specific exceptions. See Wiktionary:List of languages for all language codes.

Note that for non-English entries, one must specify both the source language (first, required positional parameter) and the destination language (second, optional positional parameter; defaults to English), as in {{etyl|la|fr}} for French term of Latin origin.

Further, if one uses “-” (a dash) as the second parameter, the language name is displayed and linked without any categorization – for instance, “{{etyl|non|-}}” yield “Old Norse” – which is useful in listing cognates. (Please do not use a bare ISO template, as {{non}}, but rather always use {{etyl}}.)

For the etymon, the templates {{term}} allows one to link to ancestor terms.

A comprehensive example for a native English word is father; note lang=enm for Middle English and lang=ang for Old English:

From {{etyl|enm|en}} {{term|fader|lang=enm}}, from {{etyl|ang|en}} {{term|fæder|lang=ang}},
from {{etyl|gem-pro|en}} {{term/t|gem-pro|*fadēr}}, from {{etyl|ine-pro|en}} {{term/t|ine-pro|*ph₂tḗr}}.
From Middle English fader, from Old English fæder, from Proto-Germanic *fadēr, from Proto-Indo-European *ph₂tḗr.

Many editors prefer "from" over "<", as in "From {{etyl|enm|en}} {{term|fader|lang=enm}}, from {{etyl|ang|en}} {{term|fæder|lang=ang}}": see #From vs symbol.

Other templates

Other useful templates are {{rfe}} and {{etystub}}, for flagging stubs or disputes. As many entries lack etymology, this is most useful if there is a partial etymology; including it for all entries lacking etymology would be distracting.

Where a term originates in a foreign, but undetermined language, use {{etyl|und}}. In cases where an etymology is reliably identified as unknown, {{unk.}} may be used (note this can be used for native-born terms unlike the previous template).

Structure of etymology categories

Following the Wiktionary convention for parts of speech categories, each language has its own root etymology category. For example the root etymology category for Scots language is Category:Scots terms by etymology.

Similarly, for each of the derivations categories (e.g. Category:Terms derived from Old English) the corresponding category for example for Scots language would be Category:Scots terms derived from Old English. The template {{topic cat}} should be included for all of these categories, and an appropriate subpage created (if necessary). (The previous template, {{dercatboiler}}, is deprecated.)

The etymology categories are inclusive: they include all terms that trace their roots to the source language, however the root. Finer distinctions can be made (such as derivations versus borrowings, or direct ancestors versus distant), but these have not been found useful and currently only the general categories exist.

We do not categorize when the etymon is in the same language (e.g. Category:English terms derived from English or similar categories should not exist nor contain any terms). Therefore, either do not use {{etyl}} in these cases or use "-" as the second parameter to suppress categorization. When both languages are the same, the template {{etyl}} treats this as a special case automatically and categorises in "twice-borrowed terms": {{etyl|en|en}} puts an entry in Category:English twice-borrowed terms. The assumption is that if a language borrowed a term from itself, it must have been borrowed into another language in between.

See also


  1. ^ Wiktionary:Votes/pl-2011-02/Deprecating less-than symbol in etymologies

External links