\ \ [OE] Not surprisingly, do is a verb of great antiquity. It goes back to the Indo-European base *dhē- (source also of English deed and doom), which signified ‘place, put’. This sense remains uppermost in descendants such as Sanskrit dhāand Greek títhēmi (related to English theme), but a progression to ‘make, do’ shows itself in Latin facere (source of English fact and a host of other words) and West Germanic *dōn. Make’ is now the central signification of English do, although traces of the earlier ‘put, place’ survive in such fossilized forms as don and doff, and ‘do someone to death’. Other Germanic relatives include German tun and Dutch doen, but the Scandinavian languages have not adopted the verb, preferring instead for ‘do’ one which originally meant ‘make ready’ (Danish gøre, Swedish gåra) and which is related to English gear.

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.