(1) (*vntyl) ‘until’;  (2) (vntyʒtel) ‘unrestraint, lightheartedness’ (dalten ~ ‘revelled’) or ‘trifling talk’

(Modern English (1) until)


Now confidently explained as a n. of native derivation, early attempts to interpret <vntyʒtel> at Gaw 1114 (‘Þay dronken and daylyeden and dalten vntyʒtel’) included reading it as a prep. derived from ON: (1) Morris's highly speculative suggestion (in his glossary and apparatus) that <vntyʒtel> is an error for *<vntyl nyʒte> ‘until night’ would give a unique Gaw instance of ME until (prep.) (for ME til, which may show input from ON til, see the etymological discussion of til). The prefix un- probably derives from ON *und, as in OIcel undz, unz ‘till that, till, until’ < *und es; cp. Go und, OS und, unt, OFris und ‘up to, as far as’ (and compounds OS unti, untō, OHG untaz, unzi), supposing a PGmc *unða which has left no trace in OE. But such an emendation is unnecessary, as later scholarship has shown that MS <vntyʒtel> is a wholly defensible reading. (2) <vntyʒtel> may be identified with early ME <vntuhtel> as at LB 12304 (as Emerson 1922: 380, suggesting the meaning 'bold, bantering' for both), which TG (glossary) explains as a derivation on OE tyht ‘instruction, training, habit; going, course, motion, progress; region’; cp. Go -taúhts (ustaúhts ‘completion’), OS -tuht (athum-tuht ‘breath’), OHG zuht ‘pulling, tug, correction’, < PGmc *tuhtiz, probably a formation ultimately on the root of the str. v. *teuxan- (as in OE tēon ‘to pull’ (etc.)). An OE *tyhtle is not attested, but MED has an early ME n. tuhtle ‘a custom; also, proper conduct; pl. manners, ways, deeds’ (LB.Cal only), to which it assigns the same origin. The instance at AW.A 8.83 (<untuhtle>) further strengthens the case for a genuine ME word meaning something like ‘unrestraint, lightheartedness’ and all editors and commentators since TG have followed this interpretation.

PGmc Ancestor

(1) *unða + *til-; (2) *tuhtiz

Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

(1) undz, unz ‘till that, till, until’ + til ‘to, until (etc.)'
(ONP (1) unz (conjunc), til (præp.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

(1) Icel uns; Far til, Icel til, Norw til, Dan til, Sw till, til

OE Cognate

(1) til (Nhb) 'to, until'; (2) *tyhtle (cp. tyht ‘instruction, training, habit; going, course, motion, progress; region’)

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



(1) ME until is first attested in Orrm and its few early ME occurrences are mainly N/EM, but it is commonplace and more widespread by the late 14c. (incl. several instances in Chaucer). (2) ME untiʒtel is also found in LB and AW.A. The unprefixed form (ME tuhtle) is also recorded in LB; and cp. also ME untiʒt n. (‘mischief; a bad or an immoral act; also, something improper’), cited by MED in AW.T and three 14c. occurrences, and tiʒt n. (‘a kind of behaviour, practice; an attitude or frame of mind’), with three citations in MED altogether.

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Gaw 1114

Early commentators suggested various emendations to MS <vntyʒtel> at Gaw 1114, incl. <vnlytel> (Kullnick), *<vnstyʒtel> (OED; i.e. a derivative of stightle v. ‘to dispose, arrange, set in order’ etc.’, formed on OE stihtan, stihtian ‘to rule, direct, arrange, order, ordain; instigate’) and *<vntyl nyʒte> ‘until night’ (Morris, see further Etymological Discussion). Later scholarship, however, has defended the MS reading.


MED untiʒtel (n.) , OED untyʒtel (adv.) , HTOED , Dance *vntyl; (1) MED until (prep.) , OED until (prep. and conj.) , de Vries til, unz, Mag. til (1), uns, Bj-L. til, Heid. tila-, Orel *unða (II), Kroonen *tila-; *unda, AEW til (3), Bj. 222; (2) MED tight (n.1) , OED tight, tyht (n.1) , Seebold teuh-a-, Bamm. 140, Orel *tuxtiz, Kroonen *tuhti-, AEW tyht