c. 1300, existence, in its most comprehensive sense, condition, state, circumstances; presence, fact of existing, early 14c., existence, frombe-ing. Sense of that which physically exists, a person or thing (as in
Old Englishbeon,beom,bionbe, exist, come to be, become, happen, from Proto-Germanic*biju-I am, I will be. This b-root is from PIE root*bheue-to be, exist, grow, and in addition to the words in English it yielded German present first and second person singular (bin,bist, from Old High GermanbimI am,bistthou art), Latin perfective tenses ofesse(fuiI was, etc.), Old Church Slavonicbytibe, Greekphu-become, Old IrishbiuI am, Lithuanianbtito be, Russianbytto be, etc.
The modern verbto bein its entirety represents the merger of two once-distinct verbs, the b-root represented bybeand theam/wasverb, which was itself a conglomerate. Roger Lass (Old English) describes the verb as a collection of semantically related paradigm fragments, while Weekley calls it an accidental conglomeration from the different Old English dial[ect]s. It is the most irregular verb in Modern English and the most common. Collective in all Germanic languages, it has eight different forms in Modern English:
BE(infinitive, subjunctive, imperative);AM(present 1st person singular);ARE(present 2nd person singular and all plural);IS(present 3rd person singular);WAS(past 1st and 3rd persons singular);WERE(past 2nd person singular, all plural; subjunctive);BEING(progressive & present participle; gerund);BEEN(perfect participle).
The paradigm in Old English was:eom, beo(present 1st person singular);eart, bist(present 2nd person singular);is, bið(present 3rd person singular);sind, sindon, beoð(present plural in all persons);wæs(past 1st and 3rd person singular);wære(past 2nd person singular);wæron(past plural in all persons);wære(singular subjunctive preterit);wæren(plural subjunctive preterit).
The b-root had no past tense in Old English, but often served as future tense ofam/was. In 13c. it took the place of the infinitive, participle and imperative forms ofam/was. Later its plural forms (we beth, ye ben, they be) became standard in Middle English and it made inroads into the singular (I be, thou beest, he beth), but forms ofareclaimed this turf in the 1500s and replacedbein the plural. For the origin and evolution of theam/wasbranches of this tangle, seeamandwas.
That but this blow Might be the be all, and the end all. [Macbeth I.vii.5]
suffix attached to verbs to mean their action, result, product, material, etc., from Old English
). In early use often denoting completed or habitual action; its use has been greatly expanded in Middle and Modern English.
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Harper, D. (n.d.). Etymology of being. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved $(datetime), from
Harper Douglas, Etymology of being, Online Etymology Dictionary, accessed $(datetime),
Harper, Douglas. Etymology of being. Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed $(datetimeMla).
D. Harper. Etymology of being. Online Etymology Dictionary. (accessed $(datetime)).
a living thing that has (or can develop) the ability to act or function independently;