From Middle English alderlevest (“dearest of all”), from alder- (“of all, very”, prefix forming the superlative of adjectives or adverbs) (the genitive plural of al (“all, entirely, utterly, very”)) + lefest, levest (“dearest, most beloved”) (from lef, leve (“beloved or dear to someone”) (from Old English lēof (“beloved, dear”, adjective), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *lewbʰ- (“to admire, praise; to covet, desire; to love”)) + -est (suffix forming the superlative of adjectives and adverbs)). The English word is analysable as alder- ((archaic) prefix meaning ‘having the greatest degree of something, of all’) + lief (“(archaic) beloved, dear”, adjective) + -est (suffix forming the superlative of adjectives and adverbs).
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌɔːldəˈliːfɪst/, /ˈɒldəliːfɪst/
Audio (Southern England) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈɔldəɹˌlifɪst/, /ˈɑl-/
- Hyphenation: al‧der‧lief‧est
alderliefest (not comparable)
- (archaic or obsolete) Often used as an epithet when addressing someone: most beloved.
- 1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Sixt, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i], page 120, column 1:
- VVith you mine Alder liefeſt Soueraigne, / Makes me the bolder to ſalute my King, / VVith ruder termes, ſuch as my vvit affoords, / And ouer ioy of heart doth miniſter.
- Common in Elizabethan English (during the reign of Elizabeth I, 1558–1603), where it was already an archaism.
- ^ “[alder]levest” under “alder-, pref.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- ^ “lẹ̄f, adj. & adv.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- ^ “-est, suf.(1)”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
- ^ Compare “alderliefest, adj.”, in OED Online , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2023.