Entries linking to afterword
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 word "speech, talk, utterance, sentence, statement, news, report, word," from Proto-Germanic *wurda- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian word, Dutch woord, Old High German, German wort, Old Norse orð, Gothic waurd), from PIE *were- (3) "speak, say" (see verb).
The meaning "promise" was in Old English, as was the theological sense. In the plural, the meaning "verbal altercation" (as in have words with someone) dates from mid-15c. Word-processor first recorded 1971; word-processing is from 1972; word-wrap is from 1977. A word to the wise is from Latin phrase verbum sapienti satis est "a word to the wise is enough." Word-for-word "in the exact word or terms" is late 14c. Word of mouth "spoken words, oral communication" (as distinguished from written words) is by 1550s.
It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world. Watch carefully and erase, while the power is still yours, I say to myself, for all that is put down, once it escapes, may rot its way into a thousand minds, the corn become a black smut, and all libraries, of necessity, be burned to the ground as a consequence. [William Carlos Williams, "Paterson"]
updated on December 22, 2016