...is infinitely more exciting than watching paint dry. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then there is no sense in reading on. I am one of those abnormal people who gets excited about vocabulary (and its often misuse).
Etymology is at once the architecture and archaeology of language.
Words are living things. Like all life on this earth, languages evolve. Some words die off, others change their shape or meaning. Outdated vocabulary is replaced by new, better suited to its environment. Squinty, squalling words are born to accommodate the constant evolution of the human experience.
Like a living thing, words can camouflage or exaggerate its characteristics (euphemism or emphasis). They can have parastic properties (letters that are inserted that have no "etymogical justification", as my computer's dictionary informs me). Language can be altered by its environment; just look at what's happened to written communication since texting and Twitter!
I love digging out the origins of words. Having formally studied four different languages and having casually read up on countless others, I found that the more languages I learn, the more easily I can trace a common ancestry in their vocabulary. I always use a thesaurus or dictionary in my writing, not only to chose the perfect word, but also out of the sheer curiousity of tracing its lineage. Each synonym has its own particular nuance that shapes the meaning.
How amazing, this ability to create entirely new worlds, to make a person feel something, to transfer abstract ideas, all from a series of lines and shapes strung together to create meaning!
Argh. I'm worded out.