Looking at the origin of the word 'because' I find it evolved from the phrase 'by cause', which was influenced by the French par cause de ; 'by cause' appeared in Middle English. What word was in use before, ex. in Old English?


Beowulf mostly uses some form of "forþon" (variations: forþan, forþam, etc.), though in a couple of places (such as lines 2638 and 2641) it uses "þe."

  • Is that related to 'for then' or something like that? – curiousdannii Mar 15 '15 at 5:24
  • @curiousdannii: maybe, or maybe it's related to "forth on." Dunno. – user438 Mar 15 '15 at 15:48
  • 4
    No, it's for "because of" plus þon instr. of the demonstrative pronoun se "that", or alternatively plus þam dat. of the same pronoun. – TKR Mar 15 '15 at 17:17
  • @TKR So it would be "for thon"? – Zgialor Mar 15 '15 at 23:26
  • @Zgialor: Yes, þ is an older spelling of th. – TKR Mar 15 '15 at 23:49

for is an old-fashioned-sounding synonym of "because": e.g.,

I dared not go outside, for it was raining.

But I am not sure if for was the direct predecessor of because.

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