late Old English betacnian "to denote, to mean, signify; be a visible sign or emblem of," from be- + Old English tacnian "to signify," from tacn "sign" (see token) or from Proto-Germanic *taiknōjanan. From c. 1200 as "to augur, presage, portend," also "be or give evidence of." Related: Betokened; betokening.
Entries linking to betoken
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).
Old English tacen "sign, symbol, evidence" (related to verb tæcan "show, explain, teach"), from Proto-Germanic *taikna- (source also of Old Saxon tekan, Old Norse teikn "zodiac sign, omen, token," Old Frisian tekan, Middle Dutch teken, Dutch teken, Old High German zeihhan, German zeichen, Gothic taikn "sign, token"), from PIE root *deik- "to show," also "pronounce solemnly."
Meaning "coin-like piece of stamped metal" is first recorded 1590s. Older sense of "evidence" is retained in by the same token (mid-15c.), originally "introducing a corroborating circumstance" [OED].
It forms all or part of: abdicate; abdication; addict; adjudge; apodictic; avenge; benediction; betoken; condition; contradict; contradiction; dedicate; deictic; deixis; dictate; diction; dictionary; dictum; digit; disk; ditto; ditty; edict; Eurydice; index; indicate; indication; indict; indiction; indictive; indite; interdict; judge; judicial; juridical; jurisdiction; malediction; malison; paradigm; policy (n.2) "written insurance agreement;" preach; predicament; predicate; predict; prejudice; revenge; soi-disant; syndic; teach; tetchy; theodicy; toe; token; valediction; vendetta; verdict; veridical; vindicate; vindication; voir dire.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit dic- "point out, show;" Greek deiknynai "to show, to prove," dike "custom, usage;" Latin dicere "speak, tell, say," digitus "finger," Old High German zeigon, German zeigen "to show," Old English teon "to accuse," tæcan "to teach."
updated on August 16, 2018