Usually the prefix "a" means "not" or "without", for example: atheist, anarchy. But, in "amaze" it's not the case, since the word maze means "confusing" or "labyrinth" and "amaze" means "surprise". Is there another meaning to the prefix "a"? Or, is it not a prefix in this word?
6Related: What is the history of adding the a- prefix to form words?– RegDwigнtApr 25, 2011 at 20:31
The Online Etymology Dictionary reports the following:
early 13c., amasian "stupefy, make crazy," from a-, probably used here as an intensive prefix, + -masian, related to maze (q.v.). Sense of "overwhelm with wonder" is from 1580s.
So the a- is a prefix here, but it intensifies instead of negating. Wiktionary lists the several uses of a- and notes the Greek-based meaning you cite as the only one that remains productive today.
I would also think the word muse has the same roots. "Amuse" then might be to say without thoughts on, which could be said 'speechless' in our culture.– user39425Apr 5, 2013 at 7:48
I'm surprise that Wiktionary does not have a sense of "to the" which I have understood to be another use of a-.
And I think it's productive, as well, as I use it to make new words, though admittedly ones that sound archaic.
How about ...
a-swimming we will go...?
Usually hyphenated, this would be my understanding of the use in amaze: "to the maze" = "to confuse my mind (with the sheer wonder of it!)"
Is there no reference that agrees with this?
See etymonline (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=amaze):
early 13c., amasian "stupefy, make crazy," from a-, probably used here as an intensive prefix, + -masian, related to maze