Uncle Ned’s Big Words: etymology and entomology

etymology and entomology

And here we have two big words which are fun to confuse because they are almost homonyms (Oops! Another big word that just means two different words, with different meanings, but which at least sound the same*). True, these two words don’t sound exactly the same, but they are big words which are similar enough that most of us can’t seem to keep them straight.

If a word ends with “ology” it usually means that somebody thought hard enough, and long enough, about something, and then published stuff about it, that other folks decided that a person could get a college degree in it, like “biology” or “zoology”, or in some cases, just to make something suspicious sound legitimate, like “astrology” or Scientology”. With the truly scientific “ology” words, the meanings are often quite simple, as is the case with “etymology”. Etymology is exactly what we are doing here. It is the study of words. However “entomology” is completely different. It is the study of bugs. So if you were to ever catch Uncle Ned using “entomology” when you suspect he means “etymology”, he is most likely just trying to bug you. Example:
“The etymology of entomology is all Greek to Uncle Ned.”

* Which makes these two words not quite homophones (another big word that Uncle Ned promises to get to later). Similarly, people sometimes confuse Uncle Ned with someone else. We are all glad that Uncle Ned is not exactly like someone else.

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