Recently in my research I came across an O.E. word, 'ingebringan' out of a dictionary wherein the scholar translated it as "to bring in". It seems to me that in a verbatim translation, he left out the suffix 'an' which on both nouns and adjectives means 'of or belonging to' or it may also mean 'one'. The word ge in O.E. can mean to, into or together. Can a scholar out there clarify this for me. Thank you

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    Do you have a citation showing the use of ingebringan? What is the name of the dictionary? Feb 5, 2014 at 15:06
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    Source: A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary by John Clark Hall, 1916, page 176. On the internet Feb 5, 2014 at 18:38
  • Thank you. I'm afraid I can't really add anything. It isn't in any of the couple of Old English books that I have, and probably isn't that common. Feb 5, 2014 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


-an is the Old English verbal suffix indicating the infinitive, e.g. singan, "to sing", drincan, "to drink", niman, "to take". (Compare singen, trinken, nehmen in Modern German.) The scholar's analysis seems correct to me.

Edit: I overlooked the other part of the question. ġe- could be a simple intensifier, but further context is in order if we want to be certain, as it can mean a number of things.

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    Are you familiar with German? Ge- usually signifies a participle form . Also OP's concern about the ending 'an' is also misguided... if one were to be familiar with German infinitive endings - OE being heavy Germanic.
    – d'alar'cop
    Feb 5, 2014 at 14:55
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    @d'alar'cop yes I am, and yes it does, and yes that is one of the things it does in Old English, too (as you will see by following my link). In fact we have a dedicated question on that. However, the prefix alone does not usually a participle make. Note how it's gelost and not gelosian, or back to German again gebracht and not gebringen.
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 5, 2014 at 14:56
  • But not all OE past participles were formed with ge-. Feb 5, 2014 at 15:04
  • Yes, and then there's that.
    – RegDwigнt
    Feb 5, 2014 at 15:05
  • I found this reference and I thought to add it here: "an, suffix. I. Derivative. 1. repr. L. anus, ana,-anum, of or belonging to. Orig. in M.E. -ain, or (after i ) -en, after OFr., but later refash. -an. Esp. added to proper names; 'belonging to a place', as Oxonian, etc.; 'following a founder', or 'a system', as Lutheran, Anglican..." Source: Shorter Oxford English Dict., Vol. 1, A-M, 1933, Oxford University Press. In understanding Modern English the word 'bring' is regarded now as a verb. But was it always thus? Feb 5, 2014 at 20:46

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