Middle English Dictionary Entry

sur- pref.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. above- pref., over- pref., super- pref.
A prefix in words derived primarily from OF, occas. from AL (via AF), with senses similar to those of ME super- pref., for example: (a) 'above, on top of, upon, over', in various permutations (both literal and figurative) and used with various parts of speech: surcot(e n., surfilen v., surmetten v., surmounten v. and related words, surnap(e n., surplis n., surrounden v., sursengle n., survei n. and related words, etc.; (b) 'greatly, excessively': surabundauntli adv., surabunden v., surfet n. and related words, surquidi(e n. and related words; (c) 'in addition, beyond': surnoun n., surplus n., surplusage n., surviver n., surviving ppl. As with super- pref., new words were occas. created by prefixing sur- to existing ME words, either (a) under the influence of related OF or AL words: surname n., surnamen v., and survisure n. or (b) as outright coinages with the meaning 'on top of, over': surchefn. and surgirdille n.; or with the meaning 'greatly, excessively': sorporred ppl. and sorporringe ger.; surreal n. may also be an example of the latter, or it may be derived from an unattested AF word.