Words related to among
prefix or inseparable particle, a relic of various Germanic and Latin elements.
In words derived from Old English, it commonly represents Old English an "on, in, into" (see on (prep.)), as in alive, above, asleep, aback, abroad, afoot, ashore, ahead, abed, aside, obsolete arank "in rank and file," etc., forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns, with the notion "in, at; engaged in." In this use it is identical to a (2).
It also can represent Middle English of (prep.) "off, from," as in anew, afresh, akin, abreast. Or it can be a reduced form of the Old English past participle prefix ge-, as in aware.
Or it can be the Old English intensive a-, originally ar- (cognate with German er- and probably implying originally "motion away from"), as in abide, arise, awake, ashamed, marking a verb as momentary, a single event. Such words sometimes were refashioned in early modern English as though the prefix were Latin (accursed, allay, affright are examples).
In words from Romanic languages, often it represents reduced forms of Latin ad "to, toward; for" (see ad-), or ab "from, away, off" (see ab-); both of which by about 7c. had been reduced to a in the ancestor of Old French. In a few cases it represents Latin ex.
[I]t naturally happened that all these a- prefixes were at length confusedly lumped together in idea, and the resultant a- looked upon as vaguely intensive, rhetorical, euphonic, or even archaic, and wholly otiose. [OED]
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek magis "kneaded mass, cake," mageus "one who kneads, baker;" Latin macerare "soften, make soft, soak, steep;" Lithuanian minkyti "to knead;" Old Church Slavonic mazo "to anoint, smear;" Breton meza "to knead;" Old English macian "to make, form, construct, do," German machen "to make;" Middle Irish maistir "to churn."
mid-15c., menglen, transitive, "mix, blend, form a combination of, bring (something and something else) together," frequentative of Middle English myngen "to mix," from Old English mengan (related to second element in among), from Proto-Germanic *mangjan "to knead together" (source also of Old Saxon mengian, Old Norse menga, Old Frisian mendza, German mengen), from a nasalized form of PIE root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit."
The formation may have been suggested by cognate Middle Dutch mengelen. Intransitive sense of "to be or become joined, combined, or mixed" is by 1520s. Of persons, "enter into intimate relation, join with others, be sociable," from c. 1600. Related: Mingled; mingling; minglement.
mid-15c., "individual or breed of dog resulting from repeated crossings or mixture of several different varieties," from obsolete mong "mixture," from Old English gemong "mingling" (base of among), from Proto-Germanic *mangjan "to knead together" (source of mingle), from a nasalized form of PIE root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit." With pejorative suffix -rel.
The distinction between a mongrel and a hybrid (a cross between two different breeds) is not always observed. Meaning "person not of pure race" is attested from 1540s. As an adjective, "of a mixed or impure breed," from 1570s.