pt. of agan
"to own, possess, owe" (see owe
). As a past tense of owe,
it shared in that word's evolution and meant at times in M.E. "possessed" and "under obligation to pay." It has been detached from owe
since 17c., though he aught me ten pounds
is recorded as active in E.Anglian dialect from c.1825. As an auxiliary verb expressing duty or obligation (c.1175, the main modern use), it represents the past subjunctive.