Entries linking to unassimilated
prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").
The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.
It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.
early 15c., in physiology, "absorb into and make part of the body," from Latin assimilatus, past participle of assimilare, assimulare "to make like, copy, imitate, assume the form of; feign, pretend," from assimilated form of ad "to" (see ad-) + simulare "make similar," from similis "like, resembling, of the same kind" (see similar).
The meaning "make alike, cause to resemble," and the intransitive sense "become incorporated into" are from 1620s. In linguistics, "bring into accordance or agreement in speech," from 1854. Related: Assimilated; assimilating.
updated on February 25, 2014