Etymology
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fulfill (v.)

Old English fullfyllan "fill up" (a room, a ship, etc.), "make full; take the place of (something)," from full (adj.), here perhaps with a sense of "completion" + fyllan (see fill (v.), which is ultimately from the same root).

It was used from mid-13c. in reference to prophecy (probably translating Latin implere, adimplere). From mid-13c. as "do, perform; carry out, consummate, carry into effect;" from c. 1300 as "complete, finish; satiate, satisfy, gratify." Related: Fulfilled; fulfilling.

Modern English combinations with full tend to have it at the end of the word (as -ful), but this is a recent development and in Old English it was more common at the start, but this word and fulsome appear to be the only survivors.

Self-fulfilling prophecy is attested by 1949, associated with and popularized by U.S. sociologist Robert K. Merton, in writings on racial prejudices, who described it as a false definition of a situation at the outset that evokes a behavior which seems to validate the false concept.

updated on April 18, 2022

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Definitions of fulfill from WordNet

fulfill (v.)
put in effect;
Synonyms: carry through / accomplish / execute / carry out / action / fulfil
fulfill (v.)
meet the requirements or expectations of;
Synonyms: satisfy / fulfil / live up to
fulfill (v.)
fill, satisfy or meet a want or need or condtion ro restriction;
Synonyms: fit / conform to / meet / satisfy / fill / fulfil
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.