Old English wesan, wæs, wæron 1st and 3rd person singular of wesan "to remain," from Proto-Germanic *was- (source also of Old Saxon wesan, Old Norse vesa, Old Frisian wesa, Middle Dutch wesen, Dutch wezen, Old High German wesen "being, existence," Gothic wisan "to be"), from PIE root *wes- (3) "remain, abide, live, dwell" (cognates Sanskrit vasati "he dwells, stays;" compare vestal). Wesan was a distinct verb in Old English, but it came to supply the past tense of am. This probably began to develop in Proto-Germanic, because it is also the case in Gothic and Old Norse. See be.
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