perfective prefix, in yclept, etc.; a deliberate archaism, introduced by Spenser and his imitators, representing an authentic Middle English prefix y-, earlier i-, from Old English ge-, originally meaning "with, together" but later a completive or perfective element, from Proto-Germanic *ga- "together, with" (also a collective and intensive prefix), from PIE *kom "beside, near, by, with" (cognate with Sanskrit ja-, Latin com-, cum-; see com-). It is still living in German and Dutch ge-, and survives, disguised, in some English words (such as alike, aware, handiwork).
Among hundreds of Middle English words it formed are yfallen, yhacked ("completely hacked," probably now again useful), yknow, ymarried, ywrought.
updated on September 28, 2015