beneath (adv., prep.)
Middle English binethe, from Old English beneoðan "under, below, in a lower place, further down than," in late Old English "lower in rank, degree, excellence, etc.," from be- "by" + neoðan "below, down, from below," from Proto-Germanic *niþar "lower, farther down, down" (see nether).
The meaning "unworthy of" is attested from 1849 (purists prefer below in this sense). "The be- gave or emphasized the notion of 'where,' excluding that of 'whence' pertaining to the simple niðan" [OED].
updated on October 07, 2022
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