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Editorial and Production Staff

Senior Vice President, Publisher, Adult Trade and Reference

Bruce Nichols

Vice President, Executive Editor (1997–2011)

Joseph P. Pickett

Executive Editor (2011–    )

Steven R. Kleinedler

Vice President, Managing Editor

Christopher Leonesio

Senior Lexicographer

Patrick Taylor

Senior Editors

Peter Chipman
Louise E. Robbins
Susan I. Spitz


Catherine T. Pratt

Associate Editors

Elizabeth Kassab
Emily A. Neeves

Consulting Editors

Valerie C. Coffey
Nicholas A. Durlacher
Benjamin W. Fortson IV
Erich M. Groat
Uchenna C. Ikonné
Katherine M. Isaacs
Robert Knippen
David R. Pritchard
Hanna Schonthal
Vali Tamm


Diane Fredrick
Katherine M. Isaacs
Julia Penelope
David R. Pritchard

Database Production Supervisor

Christopher J. Granniss

Art and Production Supervisor

Margaret Anne Miles

Editorial and Production Coordinator

Sarah Iani

Production Associate

Darcy Conroy

Administrative Coordinators

Ashley Gilliam
Mary Huot

Editorial and Production Assistance

Sophie Blum
Harley Gorton
Catherine Hawkins
Mary Lempert
Katharine Manko

Print Production Director

Donna Baxter McCarthy

Lead Print Production Coordinator

Diane Varone


Catherine Hawkes, Cat & Mouse
Deborah Hodgdon
Stoltze Design

Pre-Press Development


The staff wishes to acknowledge

Margery S. Berube, Publisher of the Fourth Edition, for her invaluable guidance in the development of the Fifth Edition.

Special Contributors and Consultants


Steven Pinker, PhD

Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Indo-European Roots and Indo-European Languages

Calvert Watkins, PhD

Victor S. Thomas Professor of Linguistics and the Classics, Emeritus, Harvard University, and Professor-in-Residence, Department of Classics and Program in Indo-European Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

Semitic Roots and Semitic Languages

John Huehnergard, PhD

Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Semitic Languages and Development of the Alphabet

Jo Ann Hackett, PhD

Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin

Language Variation and Change

John R. Rickford, PhD

J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor in Linguistics and the Humanities and Pritzker University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Stanford University

Special Consultants


Luke D. Keller, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Ithaca College


Rufus W. Burlingame, PhD

Director of Technology & Development, INOVA Diagnostics, Inc., San Diego

Todd R. Disotell, PhD

Professor, Center for the Study of Human Origins, Department of Anthropology, New York University

Benjamin Minault Fitzpatrick, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Douglas H. Goldman, PhD

Herbarium Associate, Harvard University Herbaria

W. Matthew Sattley, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Indiana Wesleyan University

Daniel Simberloff, PhD

Nancy Gore Hunger Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

John H. Van Drie

President, Van Drie Research LLC


David Deis

Staff Cartographer, Department of Geography, California State University, Northridge


Linda C. Bush, PhD

Computer Science and Technology

Jeannine Mosely, PhD

Condensed Matter Physics

Jacob J. Krich, PhD

Ziff Environmental Fellow, Harvard University Center for the Environment


Thomas “T-Bopper” Guzman-Sanchez

Urban Dance Scholar, Historian, and Anthropologist, Senior Director, International Urban Dance Masters Association, Los Angeles

Janice E. Haws Roberts, MFA

Professor and Chair, Department of Dance, St. Olaf College


David Lorton, PhD

French History

Suzanne Desan, PhD

Professor, Department of History, University of Wisconsin–Madison

General and Subatomic Physics

Stuart D. Anderson, PhD

Lecturer, Department of Physics, Ithaca College


Michele Cotton, PhD, JD

Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director, Legal and Ethical Studies, University of Baltimore


Christopher D. Goff, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of the Pacific

William I. Johnston


Robert J. Rovetti, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, Loyola Marymount University

Etymology Consultants

Bantu Languages

Sam Mchombo, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of African American Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Cariban Languages

Spike Gildea, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Oregon

Chinese and Other East Asian Languages

Zev Handel, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Asian Languages and Literature, University of Washington

Inuit/Eskimo Languages

Jerrold M. Sadock, PhD

Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus, Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago

Iranian Languages

P. Oktor Skjærvø, PhD

Aga Khan Professor of Iranian, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Northwest Pacific Languages

Alan H. Hartley

Persian and Other Near Eastern Languages

Wheeler Thackston, PhD

Retired Professor in the Practice of the Persian Language, Harvard University


Mary Antonia Andronis

Slavic Languages

Michael S. Flier, PhD

Oleksandr Potebnja Professor of Ukrainian Philology, Harvard University

Yaroslav Gorbachov, PhD

Lecturer, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago

Contributors and Consultants, Fourth Edition

James S. Ackerman
Michael Adams
Beth Anderson
Christopher D. Bedford
Jim Boyle
Susan S. Chicoski
Chryssostomos Chryssostomidis
Keith Conrad
Mark Garrett Cooper
Bryan E. Dutton
Tamar Szabó Gendler
Edmund J. Goehring
William A. Graham
Maura Hadro
William S. Haubrich
Houghton Mifflin Company
  School Division Design
Ann-Marie Imbornoni
Susan Innes
David A. Jost
Rosemary A. Joyce
Sanford N. Katz
Ivan Kreilkamp
Alexander Lehrman
Miriam L. Levering
Merryl Maleska-Wilbur
William McCloskey
Ann Marie Menting
Mike Meserole
Allan A. Metcalf
Geoffrey Nunberg
Joseph M. Patwell
Jacquelyn Pope
Rosemary Previte
Jun Qian
R. Dwayne Ramey
Carol Rigsby
Natalie Schilling-Estes
Marion Severynse
Richard Sherwood
Dennis E. Showalter
Nada Stotland
Lawrence G. Weathers
Timothy Webster
William H. Wilson

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.