English is a melting pot of a language. English contains words derived from more foreign tongues than any other. That results in many cases of multiple words for the same concept.
PRE-, ANTE and BEFORE are three words that basically mean …. before. They sound completely different, but their roots are closer than one might think from the sounds of these words.
If you look up the source of FIRST at etymonline.com, you see a lot of Germanic F-words like furist, første, and fyrstr. What is revealed there is a mental connection to the image of a FIRE STARTER. But there is also a connection to words like PRE, a Proto-Indo-European root word. PRE and FIR are related via the well-documented P/F morph pathway.
Still, what does a FIRE STARTER have to do with the sense of before-ness? To appreciate that we have to look at another word, with a similar meaning – ORIGINAL. Therein you see the early light-word OR ( hebrew) and AURA ( sounding like OR). So what ORIGINAL says is LIGHT-GENERATED. And that resounds with one of the very first thoughts in our bibles. First there was light. There clearly was a meme that existed in our ancestors that said ” the sun started all life”. It got twisted when that process got assigned to dieties. But analysis of our words can reveal the way we thought before god entered the stage, even tens of thousands of years ago. I always find that most amazing. Like a time machine really.
ANTE is also a referal to gods. The Sumerian word for SKY was AN. It exists because when you say AN ( AHN ) your tongue ends up pressed againt the upper part of your mouth. Even the AH is a large sound. The sense of AHN would have been LARGE – UP, a metaphor for god and the sun as well.
What joins PRE, BEFORE and ANTE is a meme that existed in our Stone Age ancestors. That meme said the sun started all life, the sun’s existance preceded our existence, the sun came before the earth. We knew that 10,000 and probably 100,000 years ago. And yet, we still can find people who question this.
The word ANTI meaning against is a bit weird. At etymonline.com we ANTI: from PIE *anti- “against,” also “in front of”. The original sense must have been in front of, which has a sense of beforeness in it.
The main meaning became against somewhere back in time. It almost feels like someone was in a line, ahead of another, and defended their position against the second in line. Coming before another, became being against another: and ante became anti.
Finally, since I uncovered the sense of the word FIRST, I should cover the word SECOND as well. That’s easy, but also confirms FIRST as firestarter. SECOND comes from SEQUEL, which means “to follow”. So yes, first there was the sun and then all else followed.
To learn more about the logic that hides is all our languages, get a copy of Joseph’s book, Deciphering the English Code at Amazon or request via email.