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A small story behind the reason for this question.

In Russian, just as in English, many fundamental words are a combination of two basic ones. The verb "forgot" is "zabil" in Russian. It is formed by "za" - in this case most likely in the meaning of "after" - and "bil" - literally "was" or "I am in the past". If you put them together, it forms a logical structure of "after the way I was".

In English we have "forget/forgot". As it happens in Russian, it is formed by "for" and "get" in different tenses. What meaning do these two words logically take (if any), to be righteously forming the word that logically means "to lose something that was known"?

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closed as general reference by Andrew Leach, Armen Ծիրունյան, David Wallace, simchona, Matt E. Эллен Aug 6 '12 at 8:25

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I didn't know that "for" can take the form of "opposite to". Thanks. – Maxim V. Pavlov Aug 5 '12 at 9:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The OED shows that the second element is ultimately from the hypothetical Old German getan, having the sense ‘to hold, grasp’. The first element has the sense of missing or forfeiting something. The OED concludes:

The etymological sense is thus ‘to miss or lose one's hold’; but the physical application is not recorded in any Germanic language.

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