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The Collaborative International Dictionary

To- \To-\ (?, see To, prep.), [AS. to- asunder; akin to G. zer-, and perhaps to L. dis-, or Gr. ?.] An obsolete intensive prefix used in the formation of compound verbs; as in to-beat, to-break, to-hew, to-rend, to-tear. See these words in the Vocabulary. See the Note on All to, or All-to, under All, adv.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

particle expressing separation, putting asunder, from West Germanic *ti- (cognates: Old Frisian ti-, Old High German zi-, German zer-), from Proto-Germanic *tiz-, cognate with Latin-derived dis-. According to OED, some 125 compound verbs with this element are recorded in Old English; their number declined rapidly in Middle English and disappeared by c.1500 except as conscious archaisms (such as to-shiver "break to pieces;" all to-brast).


Etymology 1 pre. (context no longer productive outside dialects English) Prefix meaning "apart", "away", "asunder", "in pieces", or expressing separation, negation, or intensityWhitney, The Century dictionary and cyclopedia, to-. Etymology 2

pre. (context rare dialectal or no longer productive English) to, toward, at, or on.

Usage examples of "to-".

But to-morrow I shall place myself at the head of my Guards, and tomorrow we shall be in the Tuileries.

From where he was watching there was a constant to-ing and fro-ing of punters, but there was also a suspiciously large presence of big men in leather jackets with heavy boots and shaven heads.

With the situation as it is in the north, with all this to-ing and fro-ing, councils and moots and so forth, normal procedures fall by the wayside.