Word Origin & History
O.E. he (see paradigm of O.E. third pers. pronoun below), from P.Gmc. *hiz, from P.Gmc. base *khi-, from PIE *ki-, the "this, here" (as opposed to "that, there") root (cf. Hittite ki "this," Gk. ekeinos "that person," O.C.S. si, Lith. sis "this"), and thus the source of the third person pronouns in
O.E. The feminine, hio, was replaced in early M.E. by forms from other stems (see she
), while the h- wore off O.E. neut. hit to make modern it. The P.Gmc. root is also the source of the first element in Ger. heute "today," lit. "the day" (cf. O.E. heodæg). Slang he-man "masculine fellow" is from 1832, originally among U.S. pioneers.
|case ||SINGULAR ||- ||- ||PLURAL |
|- ||masc. ||neut. ||fem. ||(all genders) |
|nom. ||he ||hit ||heo, hio ||hie, hi |
|acc. ||hine ||hit ||hie, hi ||hie, hi |
|gen. ||his ||his ||hire ||hira, heora |
|dat. ||him ||him ||hire ||him, heom |him
O.E. him, originally dative masc. and neut. of he; beginning 10c. it replaced hine as masc. accusative, a regional process completed by 15c. The dative roots of the -m ending are retained in Ger. (ihm) and Du. (hem). Hine persists, barely, as the southern England dialectal 'un, 'n for "him."