As pointed out here, saying "I like X" in old English would have to be formulated as "X pleases my body" and the word "like" would represent "body" in that sentence. But it's not clear to me how "like" became a verb in modern English.

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    Even in Old English, "I like X" would use like as a verb, I believe.
    – NVZ
    Feb 20, 2017 at 8:29
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    Like: Old English lician "to please, be pleasing, be sufficient," from Proto-Germanic likjan ....., "to suit," Old High German lihhen, Gothic leikan "to please"),from lik- "body, form; like, same." The sense development is unclear; perhaps "to be like" (see like (adj.)), thus, "to be suitable." Like (and dislike) originally were impersonal and the liking flowed the other way: "The music likes you not" ["The Two Gentlemen of Verona"]. The modern flow began to appear late 14c. (compare please). (Etymonline)
    – user66974
    Feb 20, 2017 at 8:30

1 Answer 1


Just because you found it in a YouTube video doesn't mean it's true. Even if the video was made by a professor. Like became a verb in modern English from the Old English verb lician, which wouldn't have been translated as "pleases my body" but as "is pleasing".

The OED says that the original root word was lich, which can mean body, but also form or appearance. Thus one thing was like another if it had the same appearance. Perhaps the semantic connection to pleasing is through suitable appearance, but that connection is likely lost in the misty beginnings of the language over a millennium ago.

  • The YouTube professor is saying what you are saying and what other etymological sources suggest. Body in the sense of form, a form that resembles mine. From there, after a thousand years, lik ( body, form) became like as we know it today. The process is unclear but the origin appears to be from lik/lich.
    – user66974
    Feb 20, 2017 at 10:51
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    @Josh As far as I can tell, this is a linguistic Just-So story. The professor is saying that like made its passage from Old English lich (body) to English like (to be pleasing to) to valley-girl speak (said) as in "She was like I think he's cute." But a thousand years ago there was already an Old English verb lician meaning to be pleasing, and the valley girl is saying nothing more startling than "She was saying something like 'I think he's cute.'"
    – deadrat
    Feb 20, 2017 at 17:57

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