"having the same characteristics or qualities" (as another), c. 1200, lik, shortening of y-lik, from Old English gelic "like, similar," from Proto-Germanic *(ga)leika- "having the same form," literally "with a corresponding body" (source also of Old Saxon gilik, Dutch gelijk, German gleich, Gothic galeiks "equally, like").
This is a compound of *ga- "with, together" + the Germanic root *lik- "body, form; like, same" (source also of Old English lic "body, corpse;" see lich). Etymologically analogous to Latin conform. The modern form (rather than *lich) may be from a northern descendant of the Old English word's Norse cognate, glikr.
Formerly with comparative liker and superlative likest (still in use 17c.). The preposition (c. 1200) and the adverb (c. 1300) both are from the adjective. As a conjunction, first attested early 16c., short for like as, like unto. Colloquial like to "almost, nearly" ("I like to died laughing") is 17c., short for was like to/had like to "come near to, was likely." To feel like "want to, be in the mood for" is 1863, originally American English. Proverbial pattern as in like father, like son is recorded from 1540s.
Meaning "such as" ("A Town Like Alice") attested from 1886. The word has been used as a postponed filler ("going really fast, like") from 1778; as a presumed emphatic ("going, like, really fast") from 1950, originally in counterculture slang and bop talk. Phrase more like it "closer to what is desired" is from 1888.
Old English lician "to please, be pleasing, be sufficient," from Proto-Germanic *likjan (source also of Old Norse lika, Old Saxon likon, Old Frisian likia, Dutch lijken "to suit," Old High German lihhen, Gothic leikan "to please"), from *lik- "body, form; like, same."
The sense development is unclear; perhaps "to be like" (see like (adj.)), thus, "to be suitable." Like (and dislike) originally were impersonal and the liking flowed the other way: "The music likes you not" ["The Two Gentlemen of Verona"]. The modern flow began to appear late 14c. (compare please). Related: Liked; liking.
"a similar thing" (to another), late Old English, from like (adj.). From c. 1300 as "an equal, a match." The like "something similar" is from 1550s; the likes of is from 1630s.
updated on December 07, 2018
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