(contracted class V strong verb; past tense seah
, pp. sewen
), from P.Gmc. *sekhwanan
(cf. O.S., O.H.G. sehan,
M.H.G., Ger. sehen,
), from PIE base *sekw-
"to see," which is "probably" the same base that produced words for "say" in Greek and Latin, and also words for "follow" (cf. L. sequor
), but "opinions differ in regard to the semantic starting-point and sequences" [Buck]. Thus see
could originally mean "follow with the eyes." Used in M.E. to mean "behold in the imagination or in a dream" (c.1200), "to recognize the force of (a demonstration)," also c.1200, "often with ref. to metaphorical light or eyes" [OED], and "to learn by reading" (1426). Past tense saw
developed from O.E. pl. sawon.
"When you have seen one of their Pictures, you have seen all." [Blake, c.1811]
Sense of "escort" (e.g. to see someone home
) first recorded 1607 in Shakespeare. Meaning "to receive as a visitor" is attested from c.1500. Gambling sense of "equal a bet" is from 1599. See you
as a casual farewell first attested 1891. Seeing Eye dog
first attested 1929, Amer.Eng., trademarked by Seeing Eye Inc. of New Jersey.