Thursday, May 4, 2017

Language of Confusion: Each And Every One

A bunch more random words that are tied together. At least these ones make sense.

Ever comes from the Old English aefre, which could mean ever or always. No one knows where it came from before that because it has no relatives in any other languages. There is an Old English phrase a to feore, which means for evermore, and they certainly might be related. It also has more of a history, coming from the Proto Germanic aiwo and Proto Indo European aiw-, life, vital force, or eternity (it’s the origin word for eon). And PS, it was Old English that started using ever as an intensifier in words like whenever and wherever.

Next, each. It showed up as the Old English aelc, which is just each. It’s actually short for a-gelic, which literally means always alike. That a- is related to eon, too, as well as aye, which you might think is the agreement one but actually isn’t because there’s apparently another one that means always. But gelic is also where like comes from. Anyway, a-gelic comes from a West Germanic phrase, aiwo galika. I hope you remember where aiwo comes from.

Finally, every showed up in the early thirteenth century as a contraction of the phrase aefre aelc, which is of course a combination of the above two words! Funny, isn’t it? They all started as phrases and turned into words. And every was a phrase from two other phrases! Words are so dumb.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Old English-English Dictionary


  1. Couldn't be as simple as just adding a y, could it?

  2. I can think of other words that started as phrases. Like goodbye. So, not without precedent.


Please validate me.