Entries linking to afterthought
Old English æfter "behind; later in time" (adv.); "behind in place; later than in time; in pursuit, following with intent to overtake" (prep.), from of "off" (see off (adv.)) + -ter, a comparative suffix; thus the original meaning was "more away, farther off." Compare Old Norse eptir "after," Old Frisian efter, Dutch achter, Old High German aftar, Gothic aftra "behind;" also see aft. Cognate with Greek apotero "farther off," Old Persian apataram "further."
From c. 1300 as "in imitation of." As a conjunction, "subsequent to the time that," from late Old English. After hours "hours after regular working hours" is from 1814. Afterwit "wisdom that comes too late" is attested from c. 1500 but seems to have fallen from use. After you as an expression in yielding precedence is recorded by 1650.
Old English þoht, geþoht "process of thinking, a thought; compassion," from stem of þencan "to conceive of in the mind, consider" (see think). Cognate with the second element in German Gedächtnis "memory," Andacht "attention, devotion," Bedacht "consideration, deliberation."
Bammesberger ("English Etymology") explains that in Germanic -kt- generally shifted to -ht-, and a nasal before -ht- was lost. Proto-Germanic *thankija- added a suffix -t in the past tense. By the first pattern the Germanic form was *thanht-, by the second the Old English was þoht.
Second thought "later consideration" is recorded from 1640s. Thought-crime is from "Nineteen Eighty-Four" (1949); thought police is attested from 1945, originally in reference to war-time Japanese Special Higher Police (Tokubetsu Koto Keisatsu).
updated on December 22, 2016