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Is there a good online resource — free or not free — to look up the etymology of German words?

Something like Duden's "Herkunftswörterbuch"?

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@thei really? Where is the original? – Pekka 웃 May 24 '11 at 19:59
@thei, you're question ( is more about German-English dictionaries, at least the way I get it. Here it's rather about monolingual specialized dictionaries. – Karol Piczak May 24 '11 at 20:04
I intended to collect both, but it is probably better to separate it. – Phira May 24 '11 at 21:20

The German Wiktionary often lists the etymology of words under the „Herkunft“ header. Note that that is usually quite concise.

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The largest etymological resource for the German language is the DWB, Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob und Wilhelm Grimm, or just Grimm for short. It is, however, not suited for learners of the language, and is sometimes even hard to understand for natives. If you're just looking for a quick explanation of the origin of a word, it's also not the best one.

It's an interesting read though if you're interested in the evolution of the language since the 16th century.

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The one that I know of is DWDS:

It has some data from the "Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen (nach Pfeifer)", it's usefulness will depend on the actual term you're looking for.

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Duden offers some limited etymology information when you search for a word. For example:


Herkunft: spätmittelhochdeutsch (mitteldeutsch) merechyn, Verkleinerungsform von mittelhochdeutsch mære, Mär

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Kluge. Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache. Bearb. v. Elmar Seebold. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter (25) 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-022364-4

A standard reference for German etymology. It is available online from some University Libraries if you have access there, but you can buy it as E-Book or Android App:


Android-App by Google:

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You might give wiktionary a try. It's a community driven dictionary, which also discloses the etymology of the words.

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