or-

or-
or-, prefix
frequent in OE., retained in a few words in ME., now obs. exc. in ordeal, and perh. ort-s, where it is no longer recognized as a significant element. OE. or- was the stressed form (used in nominal compounds), corresp. to Goth. us-, ur-, ON. ór-, ör-, OHG., Ger. ur-, OS. ur-, or-, MDu. or-, oor-, Du. oor-, orig. an adv. and prep., meaning ‘out’. The unstressed form (in verbal compounds) was in OHG. ur-, ar-, ir-, MHG., MLG., MDu., Ger., Du. er-, OS., OE. a-. Thus OE. ordál, OS. urdêli, MDu. ordeel, MLG. ordêl, OHG. urteili, Ger. urteil decision, judgement; OE. adǽlan, OS. adêljan, OHG. arteilen, Ger. erteilen to decide, allot, share. The primary sense was ‘out’, as in Goth. and OHG. uacurruns ‘outrunning, exit, exodus’, ON. órför out-going, departure; thence various derived senses, of which OE. had ‘out, completely, to an end’, as in orþanc ‘thinking out, contrivance, skill, intelligence’; ‘out and out’, ‘extreme’, in orięlda ‘extreme old age’; ‘outwardly, manifestly’, in orcnǽwe ‘recognizable’, orᵹiete ‘clearly perceptible, manifest’; and esp. ‘without, void of, bereft of’, as in the adjs. ormǽte ‘measureless, immense’, ormód ‘bereft of courage, despairing’, orsáwle ‘lifeless’, orwéne ‘without hope, desperate’, ortréowe ‘without trust, faithless’, orsorᵹ ‘without anxiety, secure’. (Cf. L. adjs. in ex-, as exanimis, excors, exossis, exsanguis.) In this last sense the prefix survived in early ME.: see ormete, ormod, orrath, ortrow.

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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