Here you will find the senses and stories of words. Much of modern English is derived from shared roots in a language spoken thousands of years ago, before writing even existed. Though terms we use today often appear unrelated on the surface, there are some delightful surprises and insights to be found by following these ancestries and seeing their common origins. Knowing where terms came from lends wonderful depth and appreciation to everyday speaking, reading, and listening. I hope you enjoy reveling in our language’s past.


What often sticks with a root over time is not a literal definition, but rather a general sense. Consequently, here you’ll find something looser than a strict meaning associated with each root and modern word.

Perhaps they're best described as poetic reinterpretations of spirit. Regardless, they are emphatically not literal definitions, either of the root or the modern word. Nonetheless, I believe you'll find them enlightening.

The most common forms the roots take in modern words are included to help with seeing connections. However, different roots may appear in modern words as the same sets of letters, so apply with caution.

The information about roots herein is sourced from the American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (which the superscript annotations follow) and the Online Etymology Dictionary. Dig in here for enjoyment and discovery, but do consult with more authoritative sources for proper research.

For ease of reading, some special characters are represented by more common, but visually similar, characters (for example a schwa displayed as an e). The sources cited above can be referenced for proper markup.

This site was made purely out of love for the history of language. Feel free to get in touch via @alexgorischek or

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