Thursday, April 27, 2017

Language of Confusion: Nearly Next

What’s next? Next, of course.

Next comes from the Old English niehsta/nyhsta/nesta (it’s different depending on which dialect you choose) which means nearest or closest and comes from their word for nigh, neah/neh. I assume you pronounce that like you live in New England.

So it comes from their word for nigh. Gee, I wonder if that’s related? Of course it is. Nigh comes from the Old English neah/neh (it depends on the dialect), which just means nigh or near. And speaking of near, it used to be the Old English…near. See as it turns out, all these words used to be different versions of the same word: nigh. They were like good/better/best, the regular word, its comparative, and its superlative, in this case nigh, nigher (near), and nighest (next). Can’t you hear it? But at some point near and next split off and became their own words that we actually use way more than nigh these days.

Pretty cool one this week. Don’t you agree? No? Just me then?

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English


  1. Nigh's something we make little use of these days.

  2. That is pretty cool. And I can kind of hear it (even with my surfer California accent).

  3. So when they say the end is nigh, they mean it's next… Makes sense!


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