Entries linking to begrime
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).
1580s, of uncertain origin, probably alteration of Middle English grim "dirt, filth" (early 14c.), from Middle Low German greme "dirt" or another Low German source, from Proto-Germanic *grim- "to smear" (source also of Flemish grijm, Middle Dutch grime "soot, mask"), from PIE root *ghrei- "to rub." The verb was Middle English grymen (mid-15c.) but largely was replaced early 16c. by begrime.
updated on May 02, 2017