Linked Questions

2 votes
1 answer

What does "a-crowding" mean in the following verse [duplicate]

From "O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman: O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon’d ...
Alastair Lloyd's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer

Seven swans a-swimming [duplicate]

In the famous Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas", presents like "geese a-laying" and "swans a-swimming" are mentioned. What does the "a" refer to in this context?
Janothan's user avatar
  • 135
2 votes
2 answers

Is there a word category for a certain kind of words beginning with 'a-'? [duplicate]

A few words beginning with an a came up to my mind recently because their structure is similar in the way they convey their meaning. Those words are like: atop, alight; afloat, afresh, anew, asleep, ...
ParaH2's user avatar
  • 137
1 vote
1 answer

A-roving, a-walking, a-verb participle: what is this called? [duplicate]

Is there a name for the archaic form of a-verb participle, as in a-walking? It appears in poetry and songs, for example, As I was a-walking down Paradise Street... Time is the stream I go a-fishing ...
Michael D. Maginn's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers

Use of "a-" before words, not the indefinite article [duplicate]

Sometimes I've found some words that start with an "a-" prefix, not the indefinite article. I think it's used to make the phrasing more euphonic and more "melodic", at least this ...
gRizzlyGR's user avatar
  • 101
63 votes
6 answers

What we've gelost — why doesn't English use the prefix "ge-"?

The Germanic languages that I'm familiar with all use a prefix similar to ge- on past participles: German: Ich habe mir den Fuß gebrochen. Dutch: Ik heb mijn voet gebroken. But English doesn't do ...
JSBձոգչ's user avatar
9 votes
4 answers

Origins of negative prefixes like in-, un-, il-, ir-, dis-, a-

I've read here about origins of in- and un- negative prefixes. Are there any known origins of other negative prefixes such as il-, ir-, dis-, a-?
Eimantas's user avatar
  • 1,752
3 votes
3 answers

Prefix "a" in "amaze"

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 ...
Ed. Brazil's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer

Is there any etymological relation between "a-hunting" and "ajar"?

While reading this question I recalled hearing the phrase like to go a-hunting on several occasions when someone stylized their speech to sound old-time'y and now I started wondering if there is any ...
quetzalcoatl's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer

What are adjectives that begin with 'a' called in grammar?

I mean adjectives like: ablaze, afloat, alive, ashore, ... I did a quick Google search and found that they are called a adjectives. But I do remember that I came across a different denomination in a ...
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