Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-for-thawt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Premeditated, intentional, preplanned, thought of before some action.

Notes: This conglomeration of words is a postpositional adjective, which means it is placed after the noun it modifies, like malice aforethought. It has no relatives except distant cousins, like aforementioned, aforenamed, and aforesaid. It is still used as a noun, as in malicious aforethoughts (2011).

In Play: This word is usually associated with crime: "Malicia Badenoff earned her time in prison by treachery aforethought." However, it need not be: "Felicia Guedenoff's care for me during my recovery was the purest act of kindness aforethought I've ever known."

Word History: Aforethought is obviously a compound consisting of afore + thought. Afore in Old English was atfore, alongside tofore and before. This word is still alive in northern regions of England and aboard ships. Fore originates in PIE per "forward, in front of", which made its way into for, German für "for", Greek peri "around, about", as in the borrowing periscope, the Russian prefix pere- "through, across", and many, many more. Thought goes back to PIE te(n)g-/to(n)g- "to think, feel". For some weakly understood reason most PIE words with the vowel E had mates with a variant containing O. Think comes from teng- with the Fickle N. Thought goes back to tong- without the Fickle N. The same applies to German, where the word for "think" is denken,, the past tense of which is dachte. (Now let's offer our gratitude aforethought to Rob Towart for recommending today's rare Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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