late 14c., "move upward," from Latin ascendere "to climb up, mount," of planets, constellations, "come over the horizon," figuratively "to rise, reach," from ad "to" (see ad-) + scandere "to climb" (see scan (v.)). Also in 15c. used with a sense "to mount (a female) for copulation." Meaning "slope upward" is from 1832. Related: Ascended; ascending. An Old English word for it was stigan.
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word-forming element expressing direction toward or in addition to, from Latin ad "to, toward" in space or time; "with regard to, in relation to," as a prefix, sometimes merely emphatic, from PIE root *ad- "to, near, at."
Simplified to a- before sc-, sp- and st-; modified to ac- before many consonants and then re-spelled af-, ag-, al-, etc., in conformity with the following consonant (as in affection, aggression). Also compare ap- (1).
In Old French, reduced to a- in all cases (an evolution already underway in Merovingian Latin), but written forms in French were refashioned after Latin in 14c. and English did likewise 15c. in words it had picked up from Old French. In many cases pronunciation followed the shift. Over-correction at the end of the Middle Ages in French and then English "restored" the -d- or a doubled consonant to some words that never had it (accursed, afford). The process went further in England than in France, where the vernacular sometimes resisted the pedantic, resulting in English adjourn, advance, address, advertisement (Modern French ajourner, avancer, adresser, avertissement). In modern word-formation sometimes ad- and ab- are regarded as opposites, but this was not in classical Latin.
late 14c., scannen, "to mark off verse in metric feet, analyze verse according to its meter," from Late Latin scandere "to scan verse," originally, in classical Latin, "to climb, rise, mount" (the connecting notion is of the rising and falling rhythm of poetry), from PIE *skand- "to spring, leap, climb" (source also of Sanskrit skandati "hastens, leaps, jumps;" Greek skandalon "stumbling block;" Middle Irish sescaind "he sprang, jumped," sceinm "a bound, jump").
English lost the classical -d- probably by confusion with suffix -ed (compare lawn (n.1)). Intransitive meaning "follow or agree with the rules of meter" is by 1857. The sense of "look at point by point, examine minutely (as one does when counting metrical feet in poetry)" is recorded by 1540s. New technology brought the meaning "systematically pass over with a scanner," especially to convert into a sequence of signals (1928). The (opposite) sense of "look over quickly, skim" is attested by 1926. Related: Scanned; scanning.
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The mountaineers slowly ascended the steep slope
We ascended the mountain
Inheritance may not ascend linearly
She ascended to the throne after the King's death
The boat ascended the Delaware
The path ascended to the top of the hill
She ascended from a life of poverty to one of great renown