• anon •
ê-nahn • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adverb
Meaning: (A bit old-fashioned) 1. Soon, shortly, forthwith, straightway. 2. Quickly, immediately, in a trice.
Notes: Here is a word Shakespeare loved; it occurs 134 times in his complete works. It has fallen out of favor among the general English-speaking public, though it was a favorite among the Shakespeare devotees in my high school in the 1950s. Today's word is a lexical orphan, but it occurs in an idiomatic expression, ever and anon meaning "every now and then".
In Play: Today's Good Word is still occasionally used, though mostly in the UK and Australia: "Mama, if you call me by my right name and not by that of my siblings, I will come anon." The second sense is rarer than the first, but it is still available: "When Freddy Katz noticed his pants were on fire, he sprang for the fire extinguisher anon."
Word History: Anon set out in Old English as on an "in(to) one". It had changed to anon by the end of the Old English period (5th to 13th centuries). Old English an derived from Proto-Germanic ainaz "one", which also produced Danish een, Dutch een, and German ein. The Proto-Germanic word came from PIE oi-no- "one, unique", whence Greek oinos "ace (on dice)", Latin unus "one", Lithuanian vienas "one", French un(e) "one". One is now used as a pronoun meaning "anyone", as in, "One never knows." The plural of this usage is they, as in "They say people explode all the time."
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