from obsolete past participle of break (v.); extension to "insolvent" is first recorded 1716 (broken in this sense is attested from 1590s). Old English cognate broc meant, in addition to "that which breaks," "affliction, misery."
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.
Old English for "before, in the sight of, in the presence of; as far as; during, before; on account of, for the sake of; in place of, instead of," from Proto-Germanic *fur "before; in" (source also of Old Saxon furi "before," Old Frisian for, Middle Dutch vore, Dutch voor "for, before;" German für "for;" Danish for "for," før "before;" Gothic faur "for," faura "before"), from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before," etc.
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."
1964, "fashionable," from slang adjective go "fashionable" (1962); see go (n.). First appearance of go-go dancer is from 1965.
1727, "action of going," from use of go (v.) to start a race, etc. Meaning "an incident, an occurrence, affair, piece of business" is from 1796. Meaning "power of going, dash, vigor" is from 1825, colloquial, originally of horses. The sense of "an attempt, a try or turn at doing something" (as in give it a go, have a go at) is from 1825 (earlier it meant "a delivery of the ball in skittles," 1773). Meaning "something that goes, a success" is from 1876. Phrase on the go "in constant motion" is from 1843. Phrase from the word go "from the beginning" is by 1834. The go "what is in fashion" is from 1793. No go "of no use" is from 1825.
Old English gan "to advance, walk; depart, go away; happen, take place; conquer; observe, practice, exercise," from West Germanic *gaian (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian gan, Middle Dutch gaen, Dutch gaan, Old High German gan, German gehen), from PIE root *ghē- "to release, let go; be released" (source also of Sanskrit jihite "goes away," Greek kikhano "I reach, meet with"), but there does not seem to be general agreement on a list of cognates.
A defective verb throughout its recorded history; the Old English past tense was eode, a word of uncertain origin but evidently once a different verb (perhaps connected to Gothic iddja); it was replaced 1400s by went, past tense of wenden "to direct one's way" (see wend). In northern England and Scotland, however, eode tended to be replaced by gaed, a construction based on go. In modern English, only be and go take their past tenses from entirely different verbs.
The word in its various forms and combinations takes up 45 columns of close print in the OED. Meaning "cease to exist" is from c. 1200; that of "to appear" (with reference to dress, appearance, etc.) is from late 14c.; that of "to be sold" is from early 15c. Meaning "to be known" (with by) is from 1590s; that of "pass into another condition or state" is from 1580s. From c. 1600 as "to wager," hence also "to stand treat," and to go (someone) better in wagering (1864). Meaning "say" emerged 1960s in teen slang. Colloquial meaning "urinate or defecate" attested by 1926, euphemistic (compare Old English gong "a privy," literally "a going").
To go back on "prove faithless to" is from 1859; to go under in the figurative sense "to fail" is from 1849. To go places "be successful" is by 1934.
19c. British idiom for "die, be killed" (popularized during World War I), "probably from thieves' slang, wherein to go west meant to go to Tyburn, hence to be hanged, though the phrase has indubitably been influenced by the setting of the sun in the west" [Partridge]. Compare go south.