Old English æftan "from behind, behind, farthest back," superlative of Old English æf, af, of "away, away from, off" (from PIE root *apo- "off, away"). Cognate with Old Frisian eft "later, afterwards; as well," Old Norse eft "after," Middle Dutch echter, efter "later, again," Gothic afta "behind, past." The Germanic superlative suffix *-ta corresponds to PIE *-to (compare Greek protos "first," superlative of pro "before"). The word is now purely nautical, "in, near, or toward the stern of a ship."
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