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I have seen occasions on which "away" seems to be used as a verb, as in "We must away." Tolkien, who was a noted philologist, used this formation in one of his Dwarvish songs, for instance. However, I cannot seem to find any dictionary references for the verb "to away." Am I mistaken in thinking it is used on rare occasions as a verb? And does this rare role of the word merit a verb entry in the wiktionary?


This is adverbial use of a preposition, not use as a verb. It is analogous to "I must to bed." or "We must to market". It can either be interpreted as an implied use of "go" or as an unusual use of "must", but it does not support interpretation of "away" as a verb. --EncycloPetey 02:12, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply, EncycloPetey. I see what you mean, given those other two poetic examples. I am in the early stages of studying German and know that one can create a similar construction in that language, such as "Ich muss weg" (lit. I must away) or "Wir muessen in der Bibliothek" (lit. We must into the library), and I was wondering if that indicated some kind of Old Germanic tradition from long ago that somehow has hung on in little anomalies like these. Anyway, thanks again! :) -James

Shakespeare frequently used 'let's away' in his writings. It can't simply be 'must', can it? -- 09:57, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

It means 'let’s go'. —Stephen (Talk) 10:07, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

My point was that 'away' was being used as a verb; the above discussion therefore cannot be boiled down to an odd use of 'must'. -- 13:47, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

I don’t see it as a verb at all. It’s an adverb. 'Let's away' is not an unusual or antiquated use of away, but of let's. In Modern English, let's requires a verb, as in 'let's go (away)'. I also don’t read 'must' into it ... it just means 'let's go', 'let's leave', 'let's depart'. The only reason must was mentioned is that let's is very similar to the modal verbs can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would, ought, need and dare, in that in Modern English it needs to govern an infinitive verb (let's do it, let's eat), but in earlier times the infinitive could be elided and implied, as in 'let's away'. In other words, 'let's' works like must, but it does not mean must. —Stephen (Talk) 08:30, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Must - intransitive verb: archaic : to be obliged to go - "I must to Coventry" — Shakespeare. Away does not need to be a verb, must is already one. Similar to "I walk away." Walk is the verb here, not away, just like must. Indeed though, it literally follows from the germanic roots of english, ie "Ich muss weg," yes.

Away and aweigh[edit]

Does 'away' as used in 'sing away' or 'ask away' have its origins in 'aweigh' as in 'anchors aweigh'? —This comment was unsigned.

No. "Away" refers to going "on" one's "way", as in a road or path. "Aweigh" refers to weighing anchor, which just means bringing up the anchor (though, strictly speaking, having the anchor "aweigh" means the anchor is raised enough to be clear of the seabed and hanging from/weighing on its rope or chain, but still in the water). It acquired its secondary mean of "getting underway" because you have to weigh anchor before you can go anywhere- but you can also weigh anchor in order to move into port. At any rate, I doubt aweigh is anywhere near as old as away, though the parts that make up both are quite old, and superficially quite similar to each other, even in Old English (the prefix a- might be the same, in fact). Chuck Entz (talk) 13:57, 9 May 2016 (UTC)