Thursday, November 17, 2011

Till is Not Clipped from Until

clipping, n.2
c. The shortening of a word, etc.; also, the resulting shortened form.

Many people are of the belief that till is a shortened form of until (I admit, I was one of these people). However, a closer look at the word histories reveals that till was the first to enter the lexicon.

Following are the words in question (with 'til thrown in to round out the set) along with their relevant definitions and first recorded usages.

till, prep., conj., and adv.
a. In the ordinary local sense of to.
a800 Inscription, Ruthwell Cross, Dumfries in O.E.T. 126 Hweþræ þer fusæ fearran kwomu æþþilæ til anum.

until, prep. and conj.
a. To, unto (denoting motion to and reaching a person or place); = till prep.
?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 1399 Forr whatt teȝȝ fellenn sone dun Off heoffne. & inn till helle.

'til, conj.
Variant of till prep., conj., and adv. or short for until prep. and conj.
1939 P. G. Perrin Index to Eng. 606 Till, until, ('til), these three words are not distinguishable in meaning. Since 'til in speech sounds the same as till and looks slightly odd on paper, it may well be abandoned.

Definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary

1 comment:

Jonathon said...

I recently wrote about till/until/'til. Interestingly, till seems to be in a terminal decline, being replaced by until and occasionally by 'til.

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