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From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Tuesday, January 17, 2006, 16:04
caeruleancentaur wrote at 2006-01-17 13:59:10 (-0000)
 > What is the date of your OED?  The one I own (the micrographed
 > compact edition) is dated 1971, but with a printing date of 1985.
 > It appears that there have been some changes since that printing,
 > which is certainly possible.  But this 1971 edition states that
 > "ago" is a participial adjective and an adverb: "[pa. pple. of the
 > preceding vb., used as adj. qualifying some noun of time....]"
 > Listed as the meaning is "gone by; bygone; past. (Now always
 > *follows* its noun.)"
 > Interestingly, "ago" used to be a verb!  "Only the pa. pple. *agan,
 > agon, agone, ago* is common after 1300, and of this the *verbal*
 > use ceased before 1700 leaving it only as *adj.* of time...."  The
 > quote (under the definition "to go away, depart) from c.1175 is
 > "Nis nawiht þeos weorld, al heo ayoð." (Translation please, and
 > that "y" should be a yogh.)  The most recent quote is from 1674,
 > "The Author therefore...took a great fright lest they were all
 > ago."

This reminds me that in association with the current BBC etymology
series _Balderdash and Piffle_, for the next month or so free access
to the online version of the OED is available for 48 hours after
broadcast of each programme (with more limited access betweentimes).

Looking at the entry for "ago", it's much as you quote above.  But a
1999 edition of the _Concise Oxford Dictionary_ says only

 | ago *adv. before the present (used with a measurement of time).
 | - ORIGIN ME _ago_, _agone_, past part. of the obs. verb _ago_
 | 'pass', used to express passage of time.

The 1998 _New Oxford Dictionary of English_ (Oxford produce a
remarkable range of sizes of dictionary) has essentially the same text
as the _Concise_, with a couple of examples and a usage note on
following clauses.

 > I believe that asterisks are used on the list for italics.  The
 > italicized words above are in the original; they're not mine.

One can use asterisks for italics, but _underscores_ are more common.


Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>