Etymology
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Words related to *per-

first (adj., adv.)

Old English fyrst "foremost, going before all others; chief, principal," also (though rarely) as an adverb, "at first, originally," superlative of fore; from Proto-Germanic *furista- "foremost" (source also of Old Saxon fuirst "first," Old High German furist, Old Norse fyrstr, Danish første, Old Frisian ferist, Middle Dutch vorste "prince," Dutch vorst "first," German Fürst "prince"), from PIE *pre-isto-, superlative of *pre-, from root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first, chief."

The usual Old English superlative word was not fyrst, but forma, which shows more clearly the connection to fore. Forma became Middle English firme "first, earliest," but this has not survived.

First aid is that given at the scene, pending the arrival of a doctor. First lady as an informal title for the wife of a U.S. president was in use by 1908, short for First lady of the land (by 1863 with reference to the president's wife); the earlier title was simply Lady (1841). First name is attested from mid-13c. First base "a start" in any sense (1938) is a figurative use from baseball.

First fruits is from late 14c. as "earliest productions of the soil;" 1590s as "first results" of any activity or endeavor. First love is from 1741 as "one's first experience of romantic love;" 1971 as "one's favorite occupation or pastime." First floor is from 1660s as "story built on or just above the ground" (now U.S.); 1865 as "story built next above the ground."

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for (prep.)

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."

for- 

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.

fore (adv., prep.)

Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of, in presence of; because of, for the sake of; earlier in time; instead of;" as an adverb, "before, previously, formerly, once," from Proto-Germanic *fura "before" (source also of Old Saxon fora, Old Frisian fara, Old High German fora, German vor, Danish for, Old Norse fyrr, Gothic faiura "for"), from PIE *prae-, extended form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before."

Now displaced by before. In nautical use, "toward the bows of the ship." Merged from 13c. with the abbreviated forms of afore and before and thus formerly often written 'fore. As a noun, "the front," from 1630s. The warning cry in golf is first recorded 1878, probably a contraction of before.

fore- 

Middle English for-, fore-, from Old English fore-, often for- or foran-, from fore (adv. & prep.), which was used as a prefix in Old English as in other Germanic languages with a sense of "before in time, rank, position," etc., or designating the front part or earliest time.

forefather (n.)

"ancestor," c. 1300, from fore- + father (n.); perhaps modeled on or modified from Old Norse forfaðir. Similar formation in Dutch voorvader, German Vorvater, Danish forfædre (Old English had forð-fæder).

foremost (adj.)

Middle English formest, from Old English fyrmest, formest "earliest, first, most prominent," from Proto-Germanic *furmista-/*frumista- (related to Old English fruma "beginning"), from PIE *pre-mo-, suffixed (superlative) form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through, in front of, before, first" + additional superlative suffix -est. For the -m-, see -most, and compare similarly formed Old Frisian formest, Gothic frumists. Altered on the assumption that it is a compound of fore and most. The same compound without the superlative -m- is first. Also in Old English as an adverb, "first of all, at first, in the first place."

former (adj.)

"earlier in time," mid-12c., comparative of forme "first, earliest in time or order," from Old English forma "first," from Proto-Germanic *fruma-, *furma-, from PIE *pre-mo-, suffixed (superlative) form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first." Probably patterned on formest (see foremost); it is an unusual case of a comparative formed from a superlative (the Old English -m is a superlative suffix). As "first of two," 1580s.

forth (adv.)

Old English forð "forward, onward, farther; continually;" as a preposition, "during," perfective of fore, from Proto-Germanic *furtha- "forward" (source also of Old Frisian, Old Saxon forth "forward, onward," Old Norse forð, Dutch voort, German fort), from extended form of PIE root *per- (1) "forward." The construction in and so forth was in Old English.

frame (v.)

Old English framian "to profit, be helpful, avail, benefit," from fram (adj., adv.) "active, vigorous, bold," originally "going forward," from fram (prep.) "forward; from" (see from). Influenced by related Old English fremman "help forward, promote; do, perform, make, accomplish," and Old Norse fremja "to further, execute." Compare German frommen "avail, profit, benefit, be of use."

Sense focused in Middle English from "make ready" (mid-13c.) to "prepare timber for building" (late 14c.). Meaning "compose, devise" is first attested 1540s. The criminal slang sense of "blame an innocent person" (1920s) is probably from earlier sense of "plot in secret" (1900), perhaps ultimately from meaning "fabricate a story with evil intent," which is first attested 1510s. Related: Framed; framing.

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