Words related to a-


occasional plural suffix of words ending in -a (see a- (1)), most of which, in English, are from Latin nominative fem. singular nouns (or Greek ones brought up through Latin), which in Latin form their plurals in -ae. But plurals in native -s were established early in English for many of them (such as idea, arena) and many have crossed over since. Purity now would only breed monsters.

afar (adv.)

"from far, from a distance," a contraction of Middle English of feor (late 12c.), on ferr (c. 1300), from Old English feor "far" (see far); the a- (1) in compounds representing both of and on (which in this use meant the same). Spelled afer in 14c.

afeared (adj.)
Old English afæred, past participle of now-obsolete afear (Old English afæran) "terrify, cause to fear," from a- (1) + færan (see fear (v.)). Used frequently by Shakespeare, but supplanted in literary English after 1700 by afraid (q.v.), to which it has no connection. It survived in popular speech and colloquial writing.
afford (v.)

Middle English aforth, from Old English geforðian "to put forth, contribute; further, advance; carry out, accomplish," from ge- completive prefix (which in Middle English regularly reduces to a-; see a- (1)) + forðian "to further," from forð "forward, onward" (see forth).

The prefix shift to af- took place 16c. under mistaken belief that it was a Latin word in ad-; change of -th- to -d- took place late 16c. (and also transformed burthen, spither, murther, etc. into their modern forms).

The notion of "accomplish" (late Old English) gradually became "be able to bear the expense of, have enough money" to do something (late 14c.), and the original senses became obsolete. Of things, "be capable of yielding," 1580s, which is the sense in afford (one) an opportunity. Related: Afforded; affording.

affright (v.)
"frighten, terrify, alarm," mid-15c.; see a- (1) + fright (v.). It probably was back-formed from older affright (adj.) "struck with sudden fear" (which is metathesized from Old English afyrht, past participle of afyrhtan "to frighten, terrify"). The doubled -f- is 16c., probably an erroneous Latin correction of a non-Latin word (compare afford). Related: Affrighted; affrighting; affrightment.
afield (adv.)

"in or to a field," 1590s, a contraction of Middle English prepositional phrase in felde, from Old English on felda "in the field" (especially of battle); see a- (1) + field (n.). Meaning "away from home, at a distance" is attested by early 15c.

afire (adv., adj.)
"on fire," c. 1200, afure, from a- (1) "on" + fire (n.). Figurative use by late 14c.
aflame (adv., adj.)
"on fire, ablaze," 1550s, from a- (1) "on" + flame (n.). Figurative use by 1856.
aflaunt (adv., adj.)
"flaunting; flauntingly," 1560s, from a- (1) + flaunt.

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