adv., prep.

Cl, WA agayne; WA agays, agayns

(adv.) 'in return'; (prep.) 'against, facing' (Modern English again)


cp. OIcel (í) gegn ‘against, opposite, contrary to, in turn’; cp. OE on-gegn, on-gēan ‘against’; cp. OS an-gegin, OHG in-gagin. Old Norse input is suggested by lack of palatalization /ɡ/. ME -gayn is explicable phonologically as a direct derivation of ON gegn; but given the vocalism of the first syllable the whole word is often treated as a variant of ME aʒayn (< OE on-gegn) with substitution of /ɡ/ for /j/ (thus EVG: 100 and Onions 1953: 111).  See also gayn (etc.), gayne.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(í) gegn 'in opposition, against, in return' 
(ONP gegn (1) (sb.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far ígen, Icel gegn,  Dan igen, OSw gen

OE Cognate

on-gegn, on-gēan  'against'

Phonological and morphological markers

absence of palatalization of */ɡ/

Summary category



Spellings reliably representing /ɡ/ are rare in the South and West until  c1400, but are normal in the Chaucer citations in MED and become increasingly frequent in southern texts in the fifteenth century; see also LALME dot map 220.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 384, 1638; Pe 28, 326, 1199, etc.; Cl 266, 826; WA 50, 82, 170 etc.

Used as a prefix in Cl 931 agayn-tote 'backward glance'


MED ayēn (adv.) , OED again (adv., prep. and conj.) , ODEE again, HTOED , EDD again (conj. and adv.), Dance agayn,  Bj. 151, de Vries gegn, Mag. gegn (2), Orel *ʒaʒnē, AEW gegn (2)