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Welcome Into the Words

Minna Sundberg - Stand Still Stay Silent

Image by Minna Sundberg, from Stand Still Stay Silent


Into the Words is an experiment in wordplay.

word, n. - Old English, word, Latin verbum, "word, what is said"

play, n. - Old English, plega, "quick motion, recreation, exercise."

Each entry will follow a particular English word to its etymological roots before springing back to the present. By comparing these historical usages to present-day examples, we will always return to delightful and terrifying query: What are we saying?


  • Sources: Etymological info will come from scholarly dictionaries and etymological dictionaries (e.g. The OED, Eric Partridge's Origins). When possible, a link will be provided to a source available without subscription (e.g. The Online Etymological Dictionary or Wiktionary).

  • The above will always be cited.

  • Meaning is not absolute. It is plural and constructed by incalculable usages both on and off the record. It changes over time. You'll find no golden keys to universal truth here.

  • Posts will include wild guesses, irresponsible connections, anachronisms, interdisciplinary wanderings, and some foolishness. See play, n.

  • Some irresponsible connections might include callbacks all the way to early languages like Proto-Indo-European for some doubtful or even hypothetical word roots. Strap in.

  • My research is in magic, language, and drama, which my posts will likely reflect. If you have a special request for any word at all, especially one relevant to current events, send it to me here and I will include it in a future post.

Thanks for playing!


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