mid-14c., "having to do with the past," from Old French preterit "past tense" (13c.) and directly from Latin praeteritum (as in tempus praeteritum "time past"), past participle of praeterire "to go by, go past," from praeter "beyond, over; more than" (see preter-) + itum, past participle of ire "to go" (from PIE root *ei- "to go").
Grammar sense is late 14c. The word also was a noun in Middle English meaning "past times" (late 14c.). Related: Preteritive. Preterite-present attested from 1813.
Entries linking to preterite
It forms all or part of: Abitur; adit; ambience; ambient; ambit; ambition; ambitious; andante; anion; cation; circuit; coitus; commence; commencement; concomitant; constable; count (n.1) title of nobility; county; dysprosium; errant; exit; initial; initiate; initiation; introit; ion; issue; itinerant; itinerary; janitor; January; Janus; Jena; Mahayana; obiter; obituary; perish; praetor; Praetorian; preterite; sedition; sudden; trance; transient; transit; transitive; viscount.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit e'ti "goes," imas "we go," ayanam "a going, way;" Avestan ae'iti "goes," Old Persian aitiy "goes;" Greek ienai "to go;" Latin ire "to go," iter "a way;" Old Irish ethaim "I go," Irish bothar "a road" (from *bou-itro- "cows' way"), Gaulish eimu "we go;" Lithuanian eiti "to go;" Old Church Slavonic iti "go;" Bulgarian ida "I go;" Russian idti "to go;" Gothic iddja "went."
Proto-Indo-European root forming prepositions, etc., meaning "forward," and, by extension, "in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, against," etc.
It forms all or part of: afford; approach; appropriate; approve; approximate; barbican; before; deprive; expropriate; far; first; for; for-; fore; fore-; forefather; foremost; former (adj.); forth; frame; frau; fret; Freya; fro; froward; from; furnish; furniture; further; galore; hysteron-proteron; impervious; improbity; impromptu; improve; palfrey; par (prep.); para- (1) "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal;" paradise; pardon; paramount; paramour; parvenu; pellucid; per; per-; percent; percussion; perennial; perestroika; perfect; perfidy; perform; perfume; perfunctory; perhaps; peri-; perish; perjury; permanent; permeate; permit; pernicious; perpendicular; perpetual; perplex; persecute; persevere; perspective; perspire; persuasion; pertain; peruse; pervade; pervert; pierce; portray; postprandial; prae-; Prakrit; pre-; premier; presbyter; Presbyterian; preterite; pride; priest; primal; primary; primate; primavera; prime; primeval; primitive; primo; primogenitor; primogeniture; primordial; primus; prince; principal; principle; prior; pristine; private; privilege; privy; pro (n.2) "a consideration or argument in favor;" pro-; probably; probe; probity; problem; proceed; proclaim; prodigal; produce; profane; profess; profile; profit; profound; profuse; project; promise; prompt; prone; proof; proper; property; propinquity; prophet; prose; prostate; prosthesis; protagonist; Protean; protect; protein; Proterozoic; protest; proto-; protocol; proton; protoplasm; Protozoa; proud; prove; proverb; provide; provoke; prow; prowess; proximate; Purana; purchase; purdah; reciprocal; rapprochement; reproach; reprove; veneer.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pari "around, about, through," parah "farther, remote, ulterior," pura "formerly, before," pra- "before, forward, forth;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Hittite para "outside of," Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," pera "across, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before," per "through;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish ire "farther," roar "enough;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of," (adv.) "before, previously," fram "forward, from," feor "to a great distance, long ago;" German vor "before, in front of;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.