What is the Origin of the word bedazzle?

The Audience was bedazzled by her charm.

The glare of the Headlights bedazzled him.

I will bedazzle my fans tonight.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, there is no specific origin of the word bedazzle other than it was first known to the English language in the late 1500s.


3 Answers 3


The origin of bedazzle is actually from the use of two existing terms, the prefix be- and the verb dazzle as an intensive form of dazzle, meaning to dazzle thoroughly, confuse by dazzling.:

Its early usage by Shakespeare probably contributed to its later popularity:

From:. The Taming Of The Shrew, ACT IV, SCENE V

  • 1596 Shakes. Tam. Shr. iv. v. 46 That haue bin so bedazled with the sunne.

Bedazzle means to dazzle intensely.

The prefix be.. has a long usage in English and is of Teutonic origin. The OED carries a long article on the subject and supplies countless words which can be so prefixed: behind, below, beneath, benorth, besouth, between, beyond befinger, becurse, befriend, bebotch, begirdle, the list is endless.

Dazzle is a Middle English (15-16th) century word from the same root as daze.

Old English be-, weak or stressless form of the prep. and adv. bí (big), by n.1 The original Teutonic form was, as in Gothic, bi, with short vowel, prob. cognate with second syllable of Greek ἀμϕί, Latin ambi; in Old High German and early Old English, when it had the stress, as a separate word, and in compounds formed with a noun, it was lengthened to bī (bî, bí), while the stressless form, in compounds formed with a vb. or indeclinable word, remained bi-; in later Old English, as in Middle High German and modern German, the latter was obscured to be- (also occasional in Old English as an unaccented form of the preposition): cf. Old English bí-gęng practice, bi-gangan, be-gangan, to practise.

In early Middle English the etymological bi-, by- regularly reappeared in compounds as the stressless form; but in later times be- was finally restored. (On the other hand, be was used by northern writers as the separate prep., as still in modern Scottish.) In modern use, the unaccented prefix is always be-; the accented form by- (sometimes spelt bye-) occurs in one or two words descended from Old English, as ˈby-law, ˈby-word (Old English bí-lage, bí-word), and in modern formations on the adv., as ˈby-gone, ˈby-name, ˈby-play, ˈby-road, ˈby-stander.

The original meaning was ‘about.’ In prepositions and adverbs this is weakened into a general expression of position at or near, as in before (at, near, or towards the front), behind, below, beneath, benorth, besouth, between, beyond. With verbs, various senses of ‘about’ are often distinctly retained, as in be-bind, be-come (= come about), be-delve, be-gird, be-set, be-stir. In such as be-daub, be-spatter, be-stir, be-strew, the notion of ‘all about, all round, over,’ or ‘throughout,’ naturally intensifies the sense of the verb; whence, be- comes to be more or less a simple intensive, as in be-muddle, be-crowd, be-grudge, be-break, or specializes or renders figurative, as in befall (to fall as an accident), be-come, be-get, be-gin, be-have, be-hold, be-lieve. In other words the force of be- passes over to an object, and renders an intransitive verb transitive, as in be-speak (speak about, for, or to), be-flow (flow about), be-lie, be-moan, be-think, be-wail. Hence it is used to form transitive vbs. on adjectives and substantives, as in dim be-dim, fool be-fool, madam be-madam; also others, in which the n. stands in an instrumental or other oblique relation, as be-night ‘to overtake with night,’ be-guile, be-witch. Of these a special section consists of verbs having a privative force, as Old English belandian, behéafdian, to deprive of one's land, one's head: cf. bereave v., and Old English benim-an to take away.

Finally, be- is prefixed with a force combining some of the preceding, to ppl. adjs., as in be-jewelled, be-daughtered. Be- being still in some of its senses (esp. 2, 6, 7 below) a living element, capable of being prefixed wherever the sense requires it, the derivatives into which it enters are practically unlimited in number. The more important, including those that are in any way specialized, or that require separate explanation, are treated in their alphabetical places as Main Words. (In the case of Middle English words in bi-, by-, all that survived long enough to have be- prefix appear under this spelling; a few that became obsolete at an early date are left under their only extant form in bi- prefix, by- comb. form.) Those of less importance, infrequent (often single) occurrence, and obvious composition, are arranged under the following groups (in which, however, the senses tend to overlap each other, so as to make the place of some of the words ambiguous):—

***Daze***Etymology: Middle English dase-n , < Old Norse *dasa, found in Icelandic in the reflexive dasa-sk to become weary and exhausted, e.g. from cold, Swedish dasa intransitive to lie idle; compare Icelandic dasi a lazy fellow. Sense 3 was possibly the earliest in English. No cognate words appear in the other Germanic languages.

***Dazzle***Forms: ME–16 dasel(l, 15 dasill, dasyll, dazile, dassel(l, 15–16 dazel(l, dasle, 15–17 dazle, (16 daisle), 15– dazzle.(Show Less)

Etymology: In 15–16th cent. dasel , dasle , frequentative and diminutive of dase , daze v. (especially in sense 2).(Show

  • That isn't the etymology though. There isn't a specifically known origin that I know of. According to your answer, dazzle doesn't have an origin. Just a frequent place of usage...Middle English. Here's a link
    – anonymous
    Nov 10, 2015 at 18:52
  • etymonline.com/…
    – anonymous
    Nov 10, 2015 at 18:52

Aside from your search results, dictionary.com claims that the word bedazzled originated between 1590-1600. Merriam-Webster online claims the word's first known is from 1616. Google N gram viewer notes popularity of the words usage in books beginning @1721 and continuing through modern day. And according to dictionary.com again the word "bedazzled" is derived from the word "daze" and originates from Middle English, Danish, and old Norse usage circa 1275-1325.

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