An irregular verb “aha” moment


This is so cool. After having to tell my stepson that I have no idea why “to go” is such a bizarre irregular verb in English, I now have an answer. Turns out that go was a synonym of wend, up until the 15th century, when go won out and wend fell by the wayside. But the past tense of wend was went — which continued to be used. And the past tense of go was goed, which was dropped. Thus the present tense go was paired up with the past tense went, and now we have one modern verb that’s mashed together from two old ones. No wonder it’s so weird!

I picked this up from a Mental Floss post on dead words that persist to this day only because they were “fossilized in idioms,” a phrase I loved the moment I read it. Check out the link for 11 others. My favorite, after wend, is roughshod. I never knew what that actually meant. Now that I do…ouch.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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8 Responses to An irregular verb “aha” moment

  1. Lilaine says:

    Oh my goed! A horse stepped on my foot, once. Glad it wasn’t rough-shod! 😮
    Then again, it wasn’t that long ago… 😉

  2. Pit says:

    Isn’t there the – albeit somewhat old-fashioned – phrase “to wend one’s way”?

    • Lisa Shaw says:

      I use that very expression frequently! I assume it has some connection to the verb “to wander,” as I always associate it with leisurely, possibly aimless movement.

      • Pit says:

        Hi Lisa,
        From what I found on the internet about the etymology, you’re right. There is a connection to “wander”. And there’s also a strong/close one to German “wenden”. Btw, the phrase “to wend one’s way” reminds me of Chaucer, where the pilgrim was “ready to wenden on his pilgrimage”.
        Best regards from southern Texas,

    • oregon expat says:

      Yes, that is precisely the idiom which fossilized the word “wend.” Other than that phrase, it’s out of use.

  3. Marta says:

    Well, you could have always argued that the portuguese counterpart of the verb to go, “ir” is probably the weirdest of them all: Eu vou, Eu fui (the past tense is exactly the same of the verb “ser” — how bizarre is that?), Eu irei… 😉

    • Lilaine says:

      That’s funny, Marta. 🙂
      The French counterpart to “go”, “aller” is the only irregular verb ending with “er”. And it’s also one of the weirdest in all the weird verbs of the French language…
      Je vais, j’allai, j’irai… some similarities, aren’t they ? 😉

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