prefix usually meaning "away, opposite, completely," from Old English for-, indicating loss or destruction, but in other cases completion, and used as well with intensive or pejorative force, from Proto-Germanic *fur "before, in" (source also of Old Norse for-, Swedish för-, Dutch ver-, Old High German fir-, German ver-); from PIE *pr-, from root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, toward, near, against."
In verbs the prefix denotes (a) intensive or completive action or process, or (b) action that miscarries, turns out for the worse, results in failure, or produces adverse or opposite results. In many verbs the prefix exhibits both meanings, and the verbs frequently have secondary and figurative meanings or are synonymous with the simplex. [Middle English Compendium]
Probably originally in Germanic with a sense of "forward, forth," but it spun out complex sense developments in the historical languages. Disused as a word-forming element in Modern English. Ultimately from the same root as fore (adv.). From its use in participles it came to be an intensive prefix of adjectives in Middle English (for example Chaucer's forblak "exceedingly black"), but all these now seem to be obsolete.
mid-13c., "yell (something) out, utter" (transitive); c. 1300, "beg, implore; speak earnestly and loudly; advertise by calling out," from Old French crier, from Vulgar Latin *critare, from Latin quiritare "to wail, shriek" (source of Italian gridare, Old Spanish cridar, Spanish and Portuguese gritar), which is of uncertain origin.
Perhaps it is a variant of quirritare "to squeal like a pig," from *quis, echoic of squealing. Ancient folk etymology explained it as "to call for the help of the Quirites," the Roman constabulary.
The meaning was extended 13c. to the sense "shed tears" that had formerly been in weep, which it largely replaced by 16c., via the notion of "utter a loud, vehement, inarticulate sound." To cry (one's) eyes out "weep inordinately" is by 1704.
Most languages, in common with English, use the general word for "cry out, shout, wail" to also mean "weep, shed tears to express pain or grief." Romance and Slavic, however, use words for this whose ultimate meaning is "beat (the breast)," compare French pleurer, Spanish llorar, both from Latin plorare "cry aloud," but probably originally plodere "beat, clap the hands." Also Italian piangere (cognate with French plaindre "lament, pity") from Latin plangere, originally "beat," but especially of the breast, as a sign of grief. Related: Cried; crying.
From late Old English as "in favor of." For and fore differentiated gradually in Middle English. For alone as a conjunction, "because, since, for the reason that; in order that" is from late Old English, probably a shortening of common Old English phrases such as for þon þy "therefore," literally "for the (reason) that."
late 13c., "an announcement, proclamation;" c. 1300, "any loud or passionate utterance; any loud or inarticulate sound from a human or beast," also "entreaty, prayer," from cry (v.). By 1852 as "a fit of weeping;" from 1540s as "word or phrase used in battle." From 1530s as "the yelping of hounds in the chase."
The notion in far cry "a great distance, a long way" seems to be "calling distance;" compare out of cry "out of calling distance" (mid-14c.); within cry of "within calling distance" (1630s). Far cry itself seems to have been a Scottish phrase popularized by Scott ("Rob Roy," 1817), which notes that "The expression of a 'far cry to Lochow,' was proverbial."