Entries linking to unlooked
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.
Old English locian "use the eyes for seeing, gaze, look, behold, spy," from West Germanic *lokjan (source also of Old Saxon lokon "see, look, spy," Middle Dutch loeken "to look," Old High German luogen, German dialectal lugen "to look out"), a word of unknown origin. Breton lagud "eye" has been suggested as a possible cognate.
In Old English, usually with on; the use of at began 14c. As a word to call attention, c. 1200 (look out! "take notice" is from mid-15c.). Meaning "seek, search out" is c. 1300; meaning "to have a certain appearance, express or manifest by looks" is from c. 1400. Of objects, "to face in a certain direction," late 14c. To look like "have the appearance of" is from mid-15c. Look after "take care of" is from late 14c., earlier "to seek" (c. 1300), "to look toward" (c. 1200). Look into "investigate" is from 1580s. To look forward "anticipate" is c. 1600; especially "anticipate with pleasure" from mid-19c. To look over "scrutinize" is from mid-15c.
Look up is from c. 1200 in literal sense "raise the eyes;" as "research in books or papers" from 1690s. To look up to "regard with respect and veneration" is from 1719. To look down upon in the figurative sense "regard as beneath one" is from 1711; to look down one's nose is from 1921. To not look back "make no pauses" is colloquial, first attested 1893. In look sharp (1711), sharp originally was an adverb, "sharply." To look around "search about, look round" is from 1883.
updated on February 27, 2014