I've said before that etymology has a tricky relationship with linguistics:

Linguistics is the study of language systems. Etymology questions belong here when they're asking about systematic issues. This could involve sound system changes. It could be about languages which have borrowed wholesale and systematically from another language. And questions on grammatical morphology are almost always on topic. But non systematic arbitrary borrowings or meaning changes don't really belong here.

We see lots of poor etymology questions. But as we continue to discuss this site's guidelines for etymology questions I thought it would help to identify some good examples, because this will help us see what works.

So feel free to reply and start your own list of etymology questions you think are really good. You don't need to try to be objective - let your personal subjective impressions be recorded, so that we can capture our intuitions and then better understand what we think makes good etymology questions good.

  • But why do you think that simple vote count is not sufficient? Commented May 6, 2019 at 2:12
  • @byte Because clearly more people like the terrible questions than I want. And sometimes that's influenced by the HNQ list.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented May 6, 2019 at 2:59

2 Answers 2


Here are mine. I'll add to it as I come across more.


This is my list of okay etymology questions:

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