Dr. C.T. Onions first joined the staff of the Oxford English Dictionary
in 1895. He worked on the OED
, the Shorter OED
, and then published his Shakespeare Glossary
in 1911. A wonderful and learned scholar, he died in 1966 as the first edition of The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology
was going to press. Assisted by G.W.S. Friedrichsen and R.W. Burchfield, Onions created a magnificent work of erudition, with 24,000 main entries. Including their derivatives, the dictionary delves into the origins of more than 38,000 words.
For each entry, the dictionary provides the correct pronunciation, followed by a short definition, and the century and source of the word's first recording. Then come the etymological notes. Thus one learns that "froth" (an aggregation of small bubbles on liquid) was first noted in the 14th century, in Sir Gawain and the Bible, that it comes from the Old Norse frooa, and was taken from there into German (fraup) and Old English (froth). Now in its fifth printing and a standard reference for scholars, Onions's opus is still the most comprehensive etymological dictionary of English ever to be published. --Stephanie Gold
ODEE is going to be, as it deserves to be, the standard etymological dictionary of the English language. Times Literary Supplement This is a very fine etymological dictionary, as aromatic a piece of lexicography as the great Onions (who, sadly died while the work was going through the press) ever achieved Anyone who wants to take journeys back through the mazes of the fickle human mind cannot very well do without this volume. Anthony Burgess, Observer