Entries linking to unbroken
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.
"separated by force into parts, not integral or entire," past-participle adjective from Old English brocken, past participle of break (v.). Of terrain, "rough," 1590s; of language, "imperfect, ungrammatical," 1590s. Related: Brokenly; brokenness. Broken home, one in which the parents of children no longer live together, is from 1846. Broken record in reference to someone continually repeating the same thing is from 1944, in reference to scratches on phonograph disks that cause the needle to jump back and repeat.
When Britain's Minister of State, Selwyn Lloyd[,] became bored with a speech by Russia's Andrei Vishinsky in UN debate, he borrowed a Dizzy Gillespie bebop expression and commented: "Dig that broken record." While most translators pondered the meaning, a man who takes English and puts it into Chinese gave this translation: "Recover the phonograph record which you have discarded." [Jet, Oct. 15, 1953]
updated on February 25, 2014