Etymology is the study of the origins of words. The etymology of a word is its linguistic history.

For example, the word etymology comes to us from the Ancient Greek language. It is composed of two parts: the Greek word etymon, which means "the true sense of a word", combined with the Greek element logia, which means "doctrine, study". Combining these two parts gives us "the study of the true sense of words", which can be said to be the 'meaning' of the word etymology.

The etymology of names is the study of the origin and literal meaning of names.