prefix not, without (amoral; agnostic; apetalous).
Etymology: Gk a-, or L f. Gk, or F f. L f. Gk
prefix implying motion onward or away, adding intensity to verbs of motion (arise; awake).
Etymology: OE a-, orig. ar-
prefix to, at, or into a state (adroit; agree; amass; avenge).
Etymology: ME a- (= OF prefix a-), (f. F) f. L ad- to, at
1 from, away (abridge).
2 of (akin; anew).
3 out, utterly (abash; affray).
4 in, on, engaged in, etc. (see A(2)).
Etymology: sense 1 f. ME a-, OF a-, f. L ab; sense 2 f. ME a- f. OE of prep.; sense 3 f. ME, AF a- = OF e-, es- f. L ex
prefix assim. form of AD- before sc, sp, st.

* * *


atheistic | atypical

from Greek

aside | ashore

in a specified state or manner

asleep | aloud

in the process of (an activity)






Old English, unstressed form of on
prefix variant spelling of ad- assimilated before sc, sp, and st (as in ascend, aspire, and astringent)
1) of


unstressed form of of
2) utterly


from Anglo-Norman French (corresponding to Old French e-, es-), from Latin ex

* * *

/ə/ prefix
1 : on : in : at


2 : in (such) a state or condition


3 : in (such) a manner


4 old-fashioned : in the act or process of

gone a-hunting [=gone hunting]

———————— II
(or an-) prefix


* * *

a- [a-] [eɪ‑] [eɪ‑] prefix
(in nouns, adjectives and adverbs) not; without




* * *

a-, prefix
from various sources.
1. OE. a-, originally ar- (rarely preserved, as in ar-æfnan), OHG. ar-, ir- ur- (mod. G. er-), Goth. us- ur-, implying motion onward or away from a position, hence away, on, up, out, and thus with verbs of motion adding intensity; as in a-bide, a-go, a-rise, a-wake, and many obs. verbs; after the analogy of which it was subsequently prefixed to other vbs., not found with it in OE., as a-curse. In some words this a- has been formally confused with OFr. a-:—L. ad-, ac-, af-, etc. (No. 7), and, like this, refashioned after assumed L. analogies, as in a(c)-curse, for a-curse, a(l)-lay for a-lay, a(f)-fright for a-fright, etc.
2. ME. a-:—OE. an, on, prep. See a prep.1 above. With nouns, in, on, engaged in, at, in loose combinations, which are really two words; as abed, ashore, afield, asleep, alive. With verbs, adverbs, and prepositions, more closely combined both in form and sense, as aknow, ashame, afore, among, across.
3. ME. a-:—OE. of prep. (see a prep.2) meaning off, from, in a-down, a-thirst; of, in akin, anew, afresh, a-clock.
4. ME. a-:—OE. and- against, opposite, as in a-long.
5. ME. a- for at prep., Norse at prep. ‘to,’ used in the north as sign of the infinitive = to. In ado, early northern Eng. at do. See also a-doors.
6. ME. a- for i-, y-:—ȝe-, as in a(f)-ford, along = owing to, and in southern pa. pples. as a-done, etc. See a particle above.
7. ME. a- = Fr. pref. a-:—L. ad-, to, at, hence sometimes expressing addition or increase, sometimes bringing into a state; as in abandon, abase, abate, abut, achieve, adroit, agree, alarm, amass, amaze, ameliorate, amerce, amount, amuse, apropos, avail, avenge, avenue, aver, avouch, avow. In 14th cent. a practice arose among French scribes of refashioning words originally having this prefix, after L. ad- and its phonetic variants ac-, af-, ag-, al-, an-, ap-, ar-, as-, at-; this extended in 15th c. to Eng., where the great majority of words from OFr. were so treated, so as to simulate a direct formation from L. Cf. a(d)dress, a(c)count, a(f)fect, a(g)grieve, a(l)lege, a(n)noy, a(p)pear, a(c)quit, a(r)rive, a(s)sent, a(t)tain, a(d)venture, a(d)vertise, a(d)vise, a(d)vocate, a(d)vowson, where etymological spelling would have simple a-. It was even extended to words not derived from L. ad-, as a(d)vance, Fr. avancer, L. ab-anteāre; a(c)knowledge, OE. on- + knowledge; a(c)curse, OE. a- + curse.
8. ME. a- = Fr. a-:—L. ab off, away, from; as in a-bridge (ab-breviāre), a-steyne, a-soil. Sometimes afterwards refashioned, as ab-stain, or confused with the prec. and erroneously respelt, as as-soil.
9. ME. a- = Anglo-Fr. a- for OFr. e-, es-:—L. ex- out, utterly; as in a-mend (L. emendare) abash (OFr. esbahiss-), afforce (esforcer), affray (esfrei), and many forms, now obs. or refashioned, as a-may, as-aumple, as-cape, a-move; or where the a- has been lost by aphesis, as scapement, sample, spenser; or has been confused with No. 10 and refashioned with en-, as ex-emplum, es-emple, a-saumple, an-sample, en-sample; or with ad- as admerveille.
10. ME. a-:—earlier Eng. and Anglo-Fr. an-, OFr. en-. This Anglo-Fr. an- was formally confused with OE. an- (see No. 2), and like it reduced bef. a cons. to a-, as in abushment, acloy, acumber, alumine, apeach, apair, apoison. In most cases these words are now obs. or refashioned, as ambushment, encumber, enlumine, impeach; or have been aphetized, as peach, cloy, limn; or have been further confused with words in a-:—L. ad- (No. 7), and erroneously respelt accordingly, as accloy, accumber, allumine, appair, appeach.
11. Many words with a- in one or other of the preceding senses have aphetic forms with the a- lost, as adown down, amid mid, alive live, amend mend, abate bate. In others the force of the prefix is so little apparent, that the derivatives in a- hardly differ in sense from their primitives, as in rise arise, wake awake, grieve a(g)grieve, cumber acumber, done adone. Hence, it naturally happened that all these a- prefixes were at length confusedly lumped together in idea, and the resultant a- looked upon as vaguely intensive, rhetorical, euphonic, or even archaic, and wholly otiose. With this vague feeling, a- was often prefixed by Spenser and other artificial archaists of the 16th cent. to words both of OE. and Romance origin, where it had no historical or etymological basis and can only be explained as due to vague form-association. This also was often treated like a:—L. ad (No. 7), and spelt ad-, ac-, af-, ag-, etc. accordingly.
12. a-, from L. a = ad prefix and preposition, to; reduced in late Latin to a- before sc-, sp-, st-; as in a-scend, a-spirate, a-scribe, a-spect, a-spersion, a-spire, a-spirate, a-strict, a-stringent. See ad-.
13. a-, from L. a = ab, prefix and preposition from, off, away; only before v, as in avert. See ab-.
14. a-, from Gr. ἀ-, used bef. a cons. for ἀν-, pref. of privation or negation = without, not, -less, in words introd. into Eng. through L. and Fr. as abysm, adamant, amethyst; or through L. as acatalectic, adiaphorous, apetalous; or from Gr. direct (or through a mod. lang.) as amorphous, adipsy; or formed on Gr. elements, as abiogenetic, agnostic. In the latter case, a- has become a living prefix of negation = un-, non-, applied not only to words from Gr., as a-cotyledonous, a-chromatic, a-philanthropy, but also to technical words from L., as a-caulous, a-sexual.
15. a-, from Gr. ἀ- intensive, as in a-bolla, a-maurosis, a-tlas.

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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