The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines Etymology as "the study of the class in words and the way their meanings have changed throughout time". (1) Since Klingon is a constructed language, there is no etymology of the words in the sense of a detailed history of a word in earlier forms of the language.

Etymology is not to be confused with the puns which explain Marc Okrand's way of finding a word, but that's only background information that does not match the idea of etymology.

Known Examples

  • It might seem obvious that the word tlhIngan originates from tlhIn ngan or tlhIng ngan, "inhabitant of Kling".
  • The verb qa' in the sense of "replace" was first explained in the phrase qa'meH vIttlhegh, a replacement proverb. In the first explanation, it was explained that the noun qa'meH was a short form of the verb quvqa'meH, so restoring somebody's honor. (2) In the Klingon Monopoly game, the word qa' was used as a verb with the meaning of "replace". That usage might have been a misinterpretation derived from qa'meH.

Ancient Klingon

There are few cases where the background of words are explained as coming from no' Hol, "ancestors language". The opening to The Klingon Dictionary suggests a few instances where an older form of a word is preserved; for instance, that Do' may have been an earlier form of Duj, preserved in words like 'ejDo' "starship". The other term is 'ej that occurs in the word 'ejyo, while 'ej by itself has no meaning.


In a recently subsection of Wiktionary started in 2017 (see shows lots of Klingon words, and include something that is labeled as "etymology". In that slot, the parts of a compound noun are listed, which is not really an etymology. It's just an analysis.
  • puqbe' daughter is explained as puq child + be' woman , which is obvious and makes sense.
  • loDnI' brother is explained as loD man + nI' short , which is wrong as it's just nonsense.

See also


1 : The New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1998, ISBN 0-19-861263-X – p. 633

2 : HolQeD, 5:1, p. 10

Category: General    Latest edit: 17 Nov 2018, by MarcZankl    Created: 09 Oct 2018 by KlingonTeacher
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