Word histories and dirt lions
January 9, 2009 9:18 AM Subscribe
How does one arrive at a list of all the English words that can be traced back to a given root word? The word "chameleon" will be discussed.
posted by sleevener to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Evidently "chameleon" comes from Greek chamai "on the ground" + leon "lion." Leaving aside some obvious misunderstandings of this animal's taxonomy and life history, I'm interested in finding out what else might have come from "on the ground."
In the Merriam-Webster entry I just looked at, it said "more at HUMBLE," so I clicked and found that "humble" also came from "chamai," through "humus." This is interesting and peculiar, and I would like to know what else might share this root word.
More generally, I'd like to know how to get a list of all the present-day words that have a given root word. Is there a kind of book that does this, or an online database that can do this? Thanks for your help.