Entries linking to bedight
word-forming element of verbs and nouns from verbs, with a wide range of meaning: "about, around; thoroughly, completely; to make, cause, seem; to provide with; at, on, to, for;" from Old English be- "about, around, on all sides" (the unstressed form of bi "by;" see by (prep.)). The form has remained by- in stressed positions and in some more modern formations (bylaw, bygones, bystander).
The Old English prefix also was used to make transitive verbs and as a privative prefix (as in behead). The sense "on all sides, all about" naturally grew to include intensive uses (as in bespatter "spatter about," therefore "spatter very much," besprinkle, etc.). Be- also can be causative, or have just about any sense required. The prefix was productive 16c.-17c. in forming useful words, many of which have not survived, such as bethwack "to thrash soundly" (1550s) and betongue "to assail in speech, to scold" (1630s).
Middle English dighten, "to adorn," from Old English dihtan "dictate, appoint, ordain; guide; compose, set in order," an early borrowing from Latin dictare "to dictate" (see dictate (v.)).
The Latin word was borrowed earlier into continental Germanic, where it became Old High German dihton "to write compose," German dichten "to write poetry." It was so nativized in late Old English that it was used to gloss Latin dictator. In Middle English, dight exploded to a vast array of meanings (including "to rule," "to handle," "to abuse," "to have sex with," "to kill," "to clothe," "to make ready," "to repair") till it was one of the most-used verbs in the language, but all its senses have faded into obscurity or survive only in dialectal or poetic use.
updated on April 26, 2017