|This article may be Overly American. Brits may not understand humor, only humour. Canadians and Australians may not understand anything at all. Don't not attempt to remedy this.|
Etymology is not to be confused with entymology, which is of vastly more use. While an entymologist will be able to tell you how to avoid killer bees, an etymologist will be all to happy to tell you the long and interesting history of killer and bee in the English language.
They will also delight in explaining when and why they were first put together, although most etymologists are lazy and will simply fall back on the ubiquitous "no one really knows for sure." Surprisingly, since no one wants to hear an etymologist explain anything, especially not something so useless and mind-sedating as the history of words, no one will even get to utter "no one really knows for sure.'
Let us continue tackling this important topic in earnest.
The Importance of Being Earnest
Since English is widely regarded as the most wonderous, and certainly best, language in the world (narrowly edging out Moroccan Arabic, Tegalug, and Schwabish), etymologists almost exclusively study the bastard descdendant of German, Norwegian, and French of all things. Since this means most etymologists are native speakers of other languages, this adds, as Carol Schopfenhauertag puts it in his cook book A Salute to Truffles, a "rich and creamy sauce made of misunderstandings, misspellings, and outright inaccuracies that taste so good when braised with honey mustard and cilantro."
Indeed, most non-native English etymology books about English are downright unreadable. A classic example is Dutch waffle-mistress Katerina Dumonde's 1997 publication Een Geschiedenis van het Engels. Consider the following passage:
"The word bread has not been given accidentally, Dutch in origin, but in fact to us. It was a complete accident we bread call."
English etymologists agree that this passage, and thousands of other nearly unreadable tracts of poor grammar, inept verbal agreement, and outright ignorance bring great discredit to their field. Said noted Harvard etymologist Sir Anthony Helping Verb:
The Etymology of Etymology
Etymology is a portmanteau of the German word etymos, which means "to speak in a boring manner" and the suffix -ology, which is Albanian for "about a great many things." So, hypothetically, etymology means "word smithery", though literally it means "about a great many things, to speak (of them) in a boring manner, (and the study of words)."
The French claim to have not only invented English etymology, but the best recipe for crepes you've ever gosh darn heard of.
Etymology is pronounced ayit-EE-m'ol-whoah-tschgee, based on the word's original, parallel history as a Lackawahanna Indian word meaning "delicious maize pudding." That word, which cannot be correctly pronounced and was only signed using the "extended palm rubbed around the stomach" gesture, was agitoeyahmollowahghrhunawalhaghlowanhahgee.
Etymologists are evenly divided, 30 percent to 70 percent, on whether etymology itself is a result of the portmanteau, or whether they mean neologism, or whether they wasted six years getting an MA in English, or whether the Indians really knew how to make a mean pudding out of maize.