What is it?

ètyma is an entirely novel way to visualize information about words. In other words, it’s a twist to the dictionary concept, in which words are no more alone but connected according to their stories. Thus, we could call it a visual etymological thesaurus and think of it as a new, more comprehensible resource to the story of the words which, in the end, would also allow a complete access to all other kinds of information related to them: different meanings and their translations; dialectal, morphological and other variants; synonyms and antonyms… To compare it to some already existing project, we can think of a visually empowered Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary applied to any world language and combined with other sources of word info: pronunciation dictionaries, dialectal information, etc.

Besides the word history lovers and amateur and professional linguists interested in etymology, ètyma is specially fit to non-specialist language learners with some knowledge of a language related to the one they are trying to learn. For example:

  • Learners of a romance language (as French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese…) as their mother tongue who are learning another romance language.
  • Learners of a Germanic language (such as German or Dutch) who already speak another Germanic language. This is a common situation, because the most spoken language worldwide –English, today’s koiné- is one of the Germanic languages.

How does it work from the user side?

ètyma works both in a browser-dependent web or as an independent phone app. Currently, we are developing it as to use the same code in both interfaces, with the aim to make language learning a beautiful and easy experience.

As of today, we have focused on developing the graphic interface of the web-based instance of ètyma, so we’ll present the project using web screenshots when we don’t have yet the app ones. Web and app screenshots are both used when available in order to provide comparison.

ètyma‘s core consists in the visualisation of the searched word connected to its etymologically related words. This can be achieved by one of four modes: ‘general, detailed, directed and ‘translator’.

When entering the étyma app, the highlights are looking up a word and –in the app version− signing up or connecting the app with some Internet profile, as can be viewed in the screenshots App 1 and Web 1. We’ve also designed a loading screenshot (App 2) in case the app would take some time to download, though our aim in this subject is to achieve the minimum loading time. Signing up or connecting the app to a profile would help improving the user’s experience, as it would allow sharing, bookmarking and settings personalization, but the app and the web could be used anonymously. In the web version, signing up or connecting can be achieved at any time from the bar atop the page.

Either in the web or app version, a word query returns a tree view in the default mode, which would be the Directed Mode unless otherwise stated by the user in the personalized settings. We can see an example of this visualization mode for the word “beer” in the App 2 and Web 2 screenshots. As shown in the App 3 and Web 3 screenshots, the user can easily change between the different visualization modes, whose characteristics are:

  • In the Detailed Mode (Web 4 screenshot), the “parents” are “children” of the given word are shown, and a “plus” symbol next to every word with parents and children at the data base allows the user to show them as well by clicking on it.
  • In the General Mode (Web 5 screenshot), all the related words to the given word are shown.
  • In the Directed Mode, only the children and direct ancestors of the given word are shown.
  • In the Translator
    Mode, only the related words with a similar meaning to the given one are shown.

A great degree of personalization is conceived on ètyma, as the user can try what languages to be shown in the word trees, and also in the settings section more advanced preferences as the preferred sources of etymological information.

In addition, hovering the mouse over every word gives the user access to the complete information about it, as seen on Web 6 screenshot.


App 1:


Web 1

App 2


App 3


Web 3

Web 4

Web 5:

Web 6:




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