Is there an etymology dictionary for Latin that is available on the Internet? For example, I know of http://etymonline.com/, which is a great resource for English etymology, but I have not been able to find an equivalent site for Latin.

So if someone knows of such site, I would be grateful.

  • The answer by Alex B. was exactly why, in you question regarding the etymology of English "and" I asked what sort of source you were expecting as most high quality resources of this type tend to be behind pay walls. – Robert Kaucher Jan 9 '14 at 14:34
  • The Perseus Project has a lot of Latin and Greek resources online, which give examples from various dates; it's not an etymological dictionary, exactly, but it's a multimillenial dictionary. I used their links extensively in this short etymological list of grammatical terms that come from Latin. For instance, the grammatical term Dative comes from the Latin verb dō, dare, dedī, dātus 'give' – jlawler Aug 22 '15 at 16:09
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    It would be a shame if people used this question to spread information about Library Genesis, a website dedicated to freely sharing academic books, including de Vaan's Etymological dictionary of Latin. Anyone can just do a web search for the current libgen URL and engage in illegal acts of piracy, easily accessing thousands of books including paywalled scholarly and scientific material. It's scandalous. – melissa_boiko Nov 10 '18 at 8:53

Unfortunately, most of the resources are behind a paywall. For example, The Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries Online database (by Brill) already includes eleven dictionaries, including de Vaan's Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the other Italic Languages.


The English Wiktionary has lots of Latin entries, and of those many have etymologies.

If you find one that lacks an etymology and you'd really like to see it added, it's a little-known fact that you can request it. Click the edit link on the page, if it's a page with entries for several words in various languages that happen to share a spelling, then click on the edit link next to the "Latin" heading.

Sometimes there will already be one or more "Etymology" headings with no details in them. This is mainly where two or more unrelated words in the same language are known to have different origins but coincidentally ended up with the same spelling. In this case the "Etymology" headings will be numbered.

Otherwise the Etymology sections are not numbered.

Etymology sections come after the language heading and before any "part of speech" heading. They usually go after a "Pronunciation" section if there is one. When there are multiple numbered etymology sections that don't all share one pronunciation, then the pronunciation section is first within the etymology section. You'll be forgiven if you get it wrong though.

Below the Etymology heading you then use the rfe template, this stands for "Request For Etymology". The result will look something like this:



... stuff ...

Or this:


===Etymology 1===
{{rfe|la|Possibly related to Greek "foo"?}}

... some stuff ...

===Etymology 2===
{{rfe|la|Could this be cognate with Sanskrit "phu"?}}

... some other stuff ...

The la is the ISO 639 language code for Latin. The comment after the | is optional and will appear in the entry to give other Wiktionary contributors a place to start looking.

To know when there's a response, click the star in the menu and check your watchlist. People may well then discuss it in the talk page before, or they may just add an etymology.

Other langauge Wiktionaries probably have similar systems, but they'd be a bit different so I can't comment on them here.

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    There is of course a difference between an etymological dictionary authored by a professional scholar and an internet site where anybody can write whatever they feel like writing. – fdb Jan 9 '14 at 19:21
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    There is of course the possibility that some people editing the site have access to etymological dictionaries authored by professional scholars, and even the possibility that some people editing the site are professional scholars who author etymological dictionaries. And there is the possibility that etymological dictionaries authored by professional scholars still contain inaccuracies. But hey, fdb and hippietrail are just writing whatever they feel like writing on this internet site that anyone can edit. – hippietrail Jan 10 '14 at 4:31
  • They have lots of Latin entries, but not always right, but it's still very useful, they give often PIE roots, but we will need another resource to check their pages. – Quidam Dec 8 '19 at 12:48
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    This answer is missing the disclaimer that you are the--by now inactive--head honcho of the project. – vectory Dec 9 '19 at 16:58
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    @vectory - Ha! Go to one of the Wiktionary talk pages and ask them if hippietrail is the "head honcho" of the project. I didn't start it but I was active early on and feel I helped some good decisions get made. For most of the last decade or more there very few of my opinions were held in any remote regard at all. I didn't implement the etymology request feature if I recall correctly, but I think I did ask for it to be added. English Wiktionary has no head honcho. It has an ever changing head clique that doesn't include me. – hippietrail Dec 9 '19 at 19:14

Good up-to-date dictionaries are under copyright and not on line. I suggest you get a reader's ticket at a well stocked university library.

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    Yeah, but Latin's out of copyright now. The Perseus Project has all classical sources in Greek and Latin. – jlawler Jan 9 '14 at 3:37
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    @jlawler But it is not an etymological dictionary, it seems. For example, it doesn't trace how the word comes from Proto-Indo-European, or if it is a loanword. – sashoalm Jan 9 '14 at 7:58
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    Perseus does not have any etymological dictionaries. There are a few etymological remarks in Lewis/Short, but they are sporadic and quite out of date. – fdb Jan 9 '14 at 10:27
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    The regular changes from Latin to Spanish vocabulary are well-known, and most dictionaries don't bother with etymologies back to PIE. For Spanish, the best source is the standard Mexican secondary school textbook, Compendio de Etimologías Grecolatinas del Español, Editorial Esfinge, México. – jlawler Jan 9 '14 at 19:39
  • It doesn't answer the question. Anyone can figure that the best one are paying and in their paper versions. – Quidam Dec 8 '19 at 12:49

The Indo-European Lexicon out of UT-Austin will give you the Proto Indo-European root for many Latin words. That would be at least a partial solution. Here is the main page, and the page for Latin.


It should be noted that de Vaan's Etymological dictionary of Latin only includes the words that are considered of Indo-European origin. So it's incomplete.


As you've probably figured out, often the swiftest way to get an etymology of a Latin word is to think of an English derivative and look it up in the online etymology dictionary , e. g. , if I want to know where Latin equus comes from, I look up equine and find that equus comes from PIE root *ekwo- "horse”

  • Considering English is not a Romance language, it's not very useful. – Quidam Dec 8 '19 at 12:50
  • this doesn't really answer the question but it's not wrong. it may remain at 0 points – vectory Dec 9 '19 at 16:59

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