Cite this: eDIL s.v. an- or
Last Revised: 2019


Forms: an-, am-, in-, im-, an-, in-, an-, é-, an-, am-, an-, am-, an-, am-, am-, am-, an-, an(n)-, an-, n-

neg. pref. (IE vocalic *n-), appearing as an-, am-, in-, im-(?), é- before different initials. See GOI § 869 ff. , Dillon, Phil. Soc. Trans. 1944, 94 ff. Even in O. Ir. the original phonetic distribution has been disturbed by analogical formations, e.g. an- for in- before d, g (andach, anglan); an- for é- before c in nouns (aincél, aincride); both an- and am- before vowels (anecne, amulach). This becomes more widespread in later lang., where in addition to regular formations of the type éccóir, étrócar we find the unphonetic édaingen, édána, édlúith, édóchas, édóig, édomain, éiderb, éidrímtha (with extension of -d-), éigrinn, éscus (scís), étriad (anríad, v.l.): énirt occurs in Wb. The form in-, regular before d-, g- (indles, with recomposition indíles, ingnad, also ingnáth) appears later in inḟebda, inḟoltach (= anfoltach), inísel, inmall, inmálla, innáire, intinne (teinne), inúath; note extension of -d- in ind(ḟ)úar, while imbil is a possible ex. of im- before b- (see GOI p. 543 ).

The forms an- and am- eventually become for all intents and purposes interchangeable in meaning (a), and many doublets arise (aindeóin, aimdeóin; anglan, amglan). But there are no exx. of an- before p- nor of am- before m-, s-, and t- (before i- only in amaires, before p- only in amprom, where prom is a loanword). Acc. to GOI p. 104 the neutral quality of the nasal seems to have been preserved before palatal vowels in the early language (note also amraid, anbal, etc.). The later tendency is for m and n to be palatalized before front vowels and palatal consonants. Cf. ainfírinne, Wb. 2a17 . The form am- presumably lenited l, r, n. In the case of initial b- the group -mb- later becomes -m(m)- (aimbrit aimrid). In its later extension am- lenites all other consonants before which it occurs. The original mutation after an- in the case of f, g(?), c was nasalization (anbal, anglan, aincride). In the later language an- lenites b c f g m (cf. aincreitem later ainchreitem, etc.); t apparently remains unchanged (ainteist aintenn); an- before d gives an(n)-, this combination falling together with original an- before n- (aindeoin, -nn-; aindíaraid, -nn-; ainnert). In old compds. a long vowel in the second element is shortened (anbal, amraid with subsequent recomposition ainfíal, aimréid) (cf. indles, ingnad above).

In frequent composition with nouns and adjj., and rarely with vbs. (ainlenaid, anadnaid, anaibsigid).

Though a few forms like aineóil strange occur fairly frequently these seem to be g s. of the nouns rather than adjj. of the type sochineóil etc. However, énirt is no doubt correctly given as adj. i-stem. The same may apply to the later aimnirt. See also aindeis, aindíles (see aindíles), ainféich, ainéitid.

(a) not, non-, un- (aimecna, aimles, ainbthen, aincreitem, aindebaid, aindeóin, aindíbad, aindliged, aineól, ainféile, ainfis, ainteist, am(a)ires; aimbil, aimdis, aimglicc, ainfesach, 2 anglan, amraid etc. For exx. with é-, in- see Fasc. E, I).

(b) The (later?) meaning bad, undesirable, unsuitable (with nouns) is found e.g. in ainben, ainbreith, aindía, aindíl, anduine, ainécht, 1 ainfine, anflaith, anfolad, aingním, ainimme, ainmían, 1 ainrecht, ainríad, ainricht, ainríge, aintír, anchruth, antocad. Words with a(i)m- in this sense are less frequent (aimbés, aimbéscna, aimles(?), aimricht; the adj. ainíarmartach is derived from a noun.

(c) As intensive prefix great, very (see Dillon ad loc. cit.). Though this meaning becomes common only in the later language there are some early formations; inglan is found in SR, ind(ḟ)úar, innáire in LL, ingarg in Todd Nenn., though inḟebda, iníchtar etc. are late. The form. a(i)m- is not found with this meaning (aimlesc is for aidlesc), in which a(i)n- has the widest extension and is still current in the spoken language. The follg. are early exx.: anfann (usual from the mid. Ir. period on), 2 aingel (Corm. Y), ainéitig (LL), ainecla (CCath.). The follg. are later: anbrath, ainching, andána, aindíchell, aindíummus, andóchas, ainfergach, ainnert, aintreise. With late byform ana- cf. anbroic, anbroit etc. Some forms are of doubtful origin. Cf. an-, am-, dīultadaig gāidilge, amail rongab . . . nert ┐ amnert, Corm. Y 23 . is inund in t-am fil ann ┐ mors nó . . . nem (etym. explanation of amrad), ACC § 140 ( RC xx 414 ). am .i. aigheadh, H 3.18, 416b23 . amh .i. olc, O'Cl. amh .i. diultadh, ib. Emain .i. amhaon; amh, aga dhiultadh nach aon rug Macha . . . acht dias, Keat. ii 2426 . ? and .i. deliugadh nó dethbir, Ériu xiii 81 § 291 .