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PREPOSITIONS. Of, original meaning

Of (original meaning "off" or "from"). Comp. ἀπό; "ab," Mœso-Gothic "af."

In Early English of is used for "from," "out of," "off," as in "He lighted of his steed, arose of the dead," "The leaves fall of the tree." This strong meaning of motion was afterwards assigned to "off" (which is merely an emphatic form of of), and hence of retained only a slight meaning of motion, which frequently merged into causality, neighbourhood, possession, &c.

Off is, perhaps, simply of in

“Over-done or come tardy off. 1

i.e. "fallen short of." Compare ὑστερεῖν. Otherwise "come off" is a passive participle, 295.

Of retains its original meaning in

“Overhear this speech
Of vantage.

i.e. "from the vantage-ground of concealment."

“Therefore of all hands must we be forsworn.

i.e. "from all sides," "to which ever side one looks;" hence "in any case." “Being regarded of all hands by the Grecians.” N. P. 176.

So our modern "off hand," applied to a deed coming from the hand, and not from the head. Hence "of hand" is used where we use "on" (175) in

“Turn of no hand.

Of also retains this meaning with some local adjectives and adverbs, such as "north of," "south of," "within fifteen hundred paces of" (Hen. V. iii. 7. 136). We could say "the advantage of," but not

“You should not have the eminence of him.

“There is a testril of (from) me too.

1 Compare

Too late of our intents.

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