Our family has not yet found the all-time personal favorite in etymological dictionaries, but that does not slow the love of learning the origin of words!
Just ask any boy to study the history of the word 'toilet' - he'll be so disappointed (but have fun along the way!). Or what about calling it a 'john'? In this area, we can actually let our boys have a bit of "potty-talk" and work it out of their systems!
Then connect those words to modern usage in a variety of languages: toilet in our language; eau de toilette in the French. The French call the bathroom a WC (water closet - an English phrase - but why "water closet" to begin with?) while the British use a French term.... I'm not giving any more hints ;)
Amazon Affiliate Link to Etymological Dictionaries
A quick glance at that list reveals MANY options. You can even study Hebrew etymology in the Bible (fascinating even for non-Christians - what does the Bible really say?).
The best bet for finding one your family or classroom will like and use is to go to a bookstore and actually flip through them. Look for words you may have concerns regarding, especially considering lower elementary children. What will entice your children?
In the end, you may find yourself purchasing 2 or 3 to provide a variety of viewpoints and styles, or even ages.
What are you looking for?
- suitable maturity level (some are meant for adults; some are actually intended for immature older people)
- balanced viewpoint
- provides language origin (and trace if the word jumped through languages), part of speech, and description
- illustrations are less important, but nice to have for certain clarifications
- cite their sources (sadly, many are missing this - so one wonders if the book can be trusted - remember, we want the children to go to original sources as much as possible, so they need to see the trail back to the source whenever possible)