Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Chambers Dictionary of Etymology
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on November 17, 1999
As noted, this is the Barnhart Dictionary, published by Chambers. The US version of this classic is now priced at over $60 - so this British re-release is a real bargain. One of the best modern etymology references available, clear, concise and definitive. IMHO, its better organized then the Oxford, and more authoritative than all but Pkorny's great $1,000 work on the etymology of all IndoEuropean languages. Highly recommended.
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on November 1, 2001
The Chamber's Dictionary of Etymology is the best edition to be found. With the origins and development of over 25,000 English words it remains the most complete and formidable reference tool in its class. This single-volume dictionary contains a short history of the English language; and above and beyond all other editions it handles how the spelling, pronunciation, and meanings of words have changed throughout time. This edition will be exceptionaly rewarding for English students, teachers, and general readers alike.
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on July 31, 2002
This volume is a "must-have" for readers, scholars, and absolutely any person interested in words and their origins/history. The book is rather heavy and thick but is otherwise extremely user-friendly and a great "browser" as well as an essential companion to any ordinary dictionary.
I should note that this edition, although a British re-publication of its famous US version, retains American spelling and keeps its focus on American sources while utilizing the best of all English references, regardless of country of origin.
Regarding physical quality, the book has a signature-sewn binding, meaning that it is not merely held together by glue but that its pages are actually sewn with real thread... quite a treat in today's disposable society. Thus, with reasonable care, this tome should last a lifetime and beyond!
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VINE VOICEon December 31, 2013
This is the perfect etymology dictionary for most of us who are wondering about word background. Some etymology dictionaries will skip the definition of a word, then go straight into a list of 5-30 standardized abbreviations to "explain" what's happening in the word, and then a phrase or two. This one instead is far more legible and approachable, listing the word, pronunciation, a short definition, and then a sentence or two of background. My impetus to buy the book was two children who are always asking me about words, and after one too many "I don't know" answers, I decided to find an etymological dictionary, and this one is perfect for giving me answers that are easy to quickly understand and explain, rather than answers that require either memorizing all the standardized abbreviations, or flipping back and forth between multiple pages in order to understand what it's saying. But it's still a "real" dictionary, with nearly 1,300 pages and over 30,000 words. It's just understandable, rather than written in code :)

Here's one short example to give you a sense (and Amazon doesn't support italics, so just realize that all foreign words appear in italics in the book):

presentiment (prizen'təmənt) n. anticipation or foreboding (usually of evil). 1714, borrowing of French presentiment, variant of pressentiment, from Middle French, from pressentire to have foreboding or premonition, from Latin praesentire to sense beforehand, have a feeling of foreboding (prae- before + sentire perceive or feel; see SENSE); for suffix see -MENT
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on November 25, 2009
I have 5-6 different etymology reference books and this one, by far, is the easiest to spend time with. First, unlike many others, this one provides the definition as well as the history of the words. Second, the authors chose to use very few abbreviations. Consequently, you do not have to memorize a long list or constantly flip back to the intro to understand things. It is very convenient to see to see a source as "Old French" as opposed to "OF". Thirdly, this work includes a number of prefixes and suffixes and also takes the time to point out some of the words which appear to come from the same source but do not, as well as a number of different sources for words where the experts disagree.

For me, this is the book I pick up when I want an enjoyable time just browsing through to see what pops up. The language of the entries draws you in and seems to tell a story rather than to just report the facts.
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on November 13, 2002
Chambers Dictionary of Etymology is not a purchase I am glad to have made. I read the other submitted reviews and felt encouraged. But after using the book through a month of extensive etymological research, I find that the resource is much too thin, although the book is thick with 25,000 entries. The best thing is the prose style which is readable and invites easy access. But, it stops far short of intriguing threads of sense that are crucial for seious research. Where are the Greek and Latin derivatives? Why is there no folksy, learned fancy to touch a pertinent phrase.
At times this book provides, through its discussion like text, a tidbit or two that was of help. On the whole , I have found the much slighter book by Eric Partridge, "Origins:A Short Etymological Dictionery of the Modern English" to be far deeper, richer, more suggestive of pockets of sense, than any other I have used so far.
I bought Chambers to save money. Now I wish I had gone for something else, the Oxford, for example. Partridge outstrips Chambers at every turn. Having to learn abbbreviations is no objection : it takes a mere second or two, and the result only better prepare one for more rewarding refernec text usage.
Blain Bovee
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on November 15, 2002
I bought the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, largely based on reviews posted here. While I love the 'prose' style of word origin discussions, there has scarcely been a time the book has proved useful. The fact is, Eric Partridge's "Origins" : a Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English" surpasses Chambers on a daily basis for my purposes. It goes deeper, gives you a wealth of threads for further investigation and contains some spicy asides regarding other distionaries. That one needs to familiarize oneself with abbreviations is simply no objection.
My view is : by-pass Chambers and get a real etymological dictionary. You will never regret it. I have a pristine copy of Chambers for sale should you incline to the contrary.
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on September 16, 2013
I had read an Etymology dictionary once before and thought they would be similar...and they are not. For example: the old book broke repent down to re(again) and pent (from pont) to bridge or go. This one indicates that it came from French without going as deeply into the concept... As I look at other words that I wonder about their origin, I find similar differences. I understand that not a ll books are the same, and so it is OK, and that is why this is OK.
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on July 25, 2002
This reference views the English language from an American perspective (as opposed to the classic OED) and presents its 25,000-30,000 entries accordingly.
The book is a supreme value and you can't go wrong. This is one for scholars and browsers alike.
I recommend this book in the highest possible sense.
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on September 11, 2011
The dictionary is good and reasonably complete, at least much better than the (American) Barnhart dictionary. The explanations are good and work back to the oldest equivalents up to Sanskrite. But many antiquated words are missing. Also all wordt with a pornographic or scatological meaning are conspicuously absent, even though much used in common language and often of clear Alglo-Saxon origin. Censorship has certainly marred this book.
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