My New Year's resolution (2010) was to answer all the mails backed up in my inbox. At the time, I had about 530 messages. As of April, my progress was such that I had 563. Most of them will require me to pull down two or three books and do a half-hour's research before I can respond.

I work a 9-hour shift at night at a newspaper, and parent a 3-year-old, alone, for four hours during the day while my wife works. Getting an amount of sleep sufficient for survival, if not health, leaves me about two or three hours to do everything else, including helping my wife keep up with a large old house and maintaining a hard-won reputation for dissolute living. That leaves me, probably, on average, a couple hours a day to do nothing but work on dictionary stuff.

I don't want to discourage people from writing -- especially if they have corrections or emendations to suggest. The vast majority of correspondents are unfailingly courteous, and I want to apologize pre-emptively to those of them who do not receive a prompt answer.

Perhaps I can save you the trouble before you type: I can't judge your theories or guesses about word origins. I am not a linguist in any sense; I'm a compiler of the works of the professionals in the discipline. If I start pretending to an ability to judge other people's theories and guesses, I will have lost whatever public value I have. I certainly am not "the academy" for the English language.

Please do not try to pick an argument with me. This site is source-based, not argument-based. Frankly I might think some of the extrapolated etymologies in some of the print sources are rather unlikely. But ne sutor ultra crepidam and all that. I print them; you judge.

What I do welcome is someone who will write, "Look, I think you've overlooked/misread sources on word xxxxx. Here's a reference and here's another. Perhaps you could write it this way: '.....' " By the way, I love Wikipedia for what it aims to be, but it cannot be a source for this work.

Currently I am:

1. expanding the dictionary by adding entries based on a list of about 30,000 words that people have searched for but which did not have separate entries or in some cases exist at all in the database. Each one has to be researched in as many as eight different books and coded individually.

2. doing a complete write-through of the text, trying to eliminate typos (but probably along the way adding half as many as I correct), massaging the different styles of different sources into rough uniformity, adding more details, breaking multi-word entries into multiple entries, and trying to make the links agree.

What has been published here so far is a framework. It probably will never be complete, even to my modest expectations.