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What is your favorite dictionary for etymological background of English words? Most big dictionaries include at least a little bit of etymology, but I'm wondering if any dictionaries provide especially useful or detailed info. Which ones do you like? Or can you recommend any dictionaries that focus on etymology specifically?
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Isn't the OED a good choice? I think it tells you the first time the word appeared in English and also the last time if it is no longer in use. This is in addition to a full history of the word and what language it was borrowed from, if applicable. I pose this as a question because it has been while since I saw the OED. (I keep meaning to save the $1000 for the full set.)
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How far back do you want to go? Calvert Watkins (one of my favorite philologists) is responsible for the 2nd edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (cf. http://www.bartleby.com/61/IEroots.html).
As for me I like Chantraine very much and generally speaking the wholr French tradition of "histoire des mots". The German dictionaries(Frisk etc.) are very cold and too "indoeuropean" in etymological interpretation in my opinion. So... Chantraine is the best since he sees the word in its native language history not avoiding of i.e. etymology but penetraiting deeper...