Middle English Dictionary Entry

a- pref.(1), in verbs
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Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

In verbs inherited from OE:(a) From OE ā-: a-biden, a-breken, a-fallen, a-reren, a-risen, a-senden, a-waken, a-winnen, and many others. (b) From OE on-: a-biden (also an-biden), ppl. a-knoue(n (also on-knaun), a-dreden, a-ginnen, and prob. some other verbs. [Early ME an- becomes a- if the verb stem begins with a consonant other than h; it survives as an- if the verb stem begins with a vowel or h; see an- pref. (3). Since in OE verbs with pref. on- usually stand beside verbs with pref. a-, the precise source of ME a- is often in doubt.](c) ?From OE of-:?a-dreden beside of-dreden; a-thinken beside of-thinken; ppl. a-thurst beside of-þurst, afurst. [Since OE of- survives as of- or af- until c1300 not only before vowels, as in of-asken, and before h, as in afhingred, afingred, but also before consonants, as in of-dreden, of-cwellen, of-nimen, of-scapen, it is probable (if not certain) that in the examples given above the common prefix a- was substituted for the obsolescent of-.]
In verbs and related nouns adopted from OF: (a) From OF a- (ult. L ad-, ac-, at-, etc., & ab): a-counten, a-dressen, a-faiten, a(l)-leǧǧen, a-paien, a(r)riven, a-soilen, a-tiren, a(t)-teinen, a(d)-vocat, a-vǒuen, avoueson, a-waiten, etc. (b) From AF an- (corresp. to CF en-): a-busshen, a-bushment, a-cirographen, a-cǒmbren, a-daunten, a-pechen, a-pairen. [Like the native prefix an-, AF an- became a- before stems beginning with a consonant, but remained an- before a vowel (cp. an- pref. (4). However, it is probable that ME a- (from OE ā- and from OF a-) was substituted for an-.] (c) From AF as- (corresp. to CF es-, ult. L ex-): a-cheten (beside es-cheten), a(f)-forcen, a(f)-fraien, a-stǒned, a-stǒnen. [Since AF as- became a- in the 13th cent., these words, except as-tǒned, -en, came into English with prefix a-.] (d) From OF e- (ult. L ē-, or developed before initial st-): a-storen beside storen; astraied; a-vanisshen beside vanisshen.
In verbs adopted from L: (a) from a- (var. of as-, ult. ad-): a-scenden, a-scriben, a-spiren; (b) from ā- (var. of ab-): a-verten.
In various ME formations, both early and late: (a) with native or ON stems: a-angred, a-baiten, a-deuen, a-dighten, a-freshen, a-forwen, a-lamed, a-raisen, etc.; (b) with OF stems: a-dǒuten, a-feinten, a-gisen, a-serchen, etc.