Entries linking to recross
word-forming element meaning "back, back from, back to the original place;" also "again, anew, once more," also conveying the notion of "undoing" or "backward," etc. (see sense evolution below), c. 1200, from Old French re- and directly from Latin re- an inseparable prefix meaning "again; back; anew, against."
Watkins (2000) describes this as a "Latin combining form conceivably from Indo-European *wret-, metathetical variant of *wert- "to turn." De Vaan says the "only acceptable etymology" for it is a 2004 explanation which reconstructs a root in PIE *ure "back."
In earliest Latin the prefix became red- before vowels and h-, a form preserved in redact, redeem, redolent, redundant, redintegrate, and, in disguise, render (v.). In some English words from French and Italian re- appears as ra- and the following consonant is often doubled (see rally (v.1)).
The many meanings in the notion of "back" give re- its broad sense-range: "a turning back; opposition; restoration to a former state; "transition to an opposite state." From the extended senses in "again," re- becomes "repetition of an action," and in this sense it is extremely common as a formative element in English, applicable to any verb. OED writes that it is "impossible to attempt a complete record of all the forms resulting from its use," and adds that "The number of these is practically infinite ...."
Often merely intensive, and in many of the older borrowings from French and Latin the precise sense of re- is forgotten, lost in secondary senses, or weakened beyond recognition, so that it has no apparent semantic content (receive, recommend, recover, reduce, recreate, refer, religion, remain, request, require). There seem to have been more such words in Middle English than after, e.g. recomfort (v.) "to comfort, console; encourage;" recourse (n.) "a process, way, course." Recover in Middle English also could mean "obtain, win" (happiness, a kingdom, etc.) with no notion of getting something back, also "gain the upper hand, overcome; arrive at;" also consider the legal sense of recovery as "obtain (property) by judgment or legal proceedings."
And, due to sound changes and accent shifts, re- sometimes entirely loses its identity as a prefix (rebel, relic, remnant, restive, rest (n.2) "remainder," rally (v.1) "bring together"). In a few words it is reduced to r-, as in ransom (a doublet of redemption), rampart, etc.
Prefixed to a word beginning with e, re- is separated by a hyphen, as re-establish, re-estate, re-edify, etc. ; or else the second e has a dieresis over it: as, reëstablish, reëmbark, etc. The hyphen is also sometimes used to bring out emphatically the sense of repetition or iteration : as, sung and re-sung. The dieresis is not used over other vowels than e when re is prefixed : thus, reinforce, reunite, reabolish. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
c. 1200, "make the sign of a cross as an act of devotion," from cross (n.) and in part from French croiser. Sense of "to go across, pass from side to side of, pass over" is from c. 1400; that of "to cancel by drawing a line over or crossed lines over" is from mid-15c.
From late 14c. as "lie across; intersect;" also "place (two things) crosswise of each other; lay one thing across another." From early 15c. as "mark a cross on." Meaning "thwart, obstruct, hinder, oppose" is from 1550s. Meaning "to draw or run a line athwart or across" is from 1703. Also in Middle English in now-archaic sense "crucify" (mid-14c.), hence, figuratively, crossed "carrying a cross of affliction or penance."
Sense of "cause to interbreed" is from 1754. In telegraphy, electricity, etc., in reference to accidental contact of two wires on different circuits or different parts of a circuit that allows part of the current to flow from one to the other, from 1884. Meaning "to cheat" is by 1823.
Cross my heart as a vow is from 1898. To cross over as euphemistic for "to die" is from 1930. To cross (someone's) path "thwart, obstruct, oppose" is from 1818. Of ideas, etc., to cross (someone's) mind "enter into" (of an idea, etc.) is from 1768; the notion is of something entering the mind as if passing athwart it.
updated on May 28, 2021