Meaning "from one's own or accustomed place" is from c. 1300; that of "from one state or condition to another" is from mid-14c.; that of "from one's possession (give away, throw away) is from c. 1400. Colloquial use for "without delay" (fire away, also right away) is from earlier sense of "onward in time" (16c.). Meaning "at such a distance" (a mile away) is by 1712. Intensive use (as in away back) is American English, attested by 1818. Of sporting events played at the other team's field or court, by 1893.
Entries linking to away
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]
Old English weg "road, path; course of travel; room, space, freedom of movement;" also, figuratively, "course of life" especially, in plural, "habits of life" as regards moral, ethical, or spiritual choices, from Proto-Germanic *wega- "course of travel, way" (source also of Old Saxon, Dutch weg, Old Norse vegr, Old Frisian wei, Old High German weg, German Weg, Gothic wigs "way"), from PIE root *wegh- "to go, move, transport in a vehicle."
From c. 1300 as "manner in which something occurs." Adverbial constructions attested since Middle English include this way "in this direction," that way "in that direction," both from late 15c.; out of the way "remote" (c. 1300). In the way "so placed as to impede" is from 1560s.
From the "course of life" sense comes way of life (c. 1600), get (or have) one's way (1590s), have it (one's) way (1709). From the "course of travel" sense comes the figurative go separate ways (1837); one way or (the) other (1550s); have it both ways (1847); and the figurative sense of come a long way (1922).
Adverbial phrase all the way "completely, to conclusion" is by 1915; sexual sense implied by 1924. Make way is from c. 1200. Ways and means "resources at a person's disposal" is attested from early 15c. (with mean (n.)). Way out "means of exit" is from 1926. Encouragement phrase way to go is short for that's the way to go.
the teacher waved the children away from the dead animal
ran away from the lion
wanted to get away from there
sent the children away to boarding school
gave away the tickets
pushed all doubts away
the music faded away
her fingernails were worn away
idled the hours away
the boat was 5 miles off (or away)
the party is still 2 weeks off (or away)
away back in the 18th century
the child kept hammering away as if his life depended on it
he worked away at the project for more than a year
the rotted wood had to be cut away
cleared the mess away
her jewels are locked away in a safe
filed the letter away
put the toys away
turn away one's face
he's away right now
you must not allow a stranger into the house when your mother is away
an away game
the pitch was away (or wide)