Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • prep. In a direction toward so as to reach: went to the city.
  • prep. Towards: turned to me.
  • prep. Reaching as far as: The ocean water was clear all the way to the bottom.
  • prep. To the extent or degree of: loved him to distraction.
  • prep. With the resultant condition of: nursed her back to health.
  • prep. Toward a given state: helping minority women to economic equality.
  • prep. In contact with; against: their faces pressed to the windows.
  • prep. In front of: stood face to face.
  • prep. Used to indicate appropriation or possession: looked for the top to the jar.
  • prep. Concerning; regarding: waiting for an answer to my letter.
  • prep. In a particular relationship with: The brook runs parallel to the road.
  • prep. As an accompaniment or a complement of: danced to the tune.
  • prep. Composing; constituting: two cups to a pint.
  • prep. In accord with: job responsibilities suited to her abilities.
  • prep. As compared with: a book superior to his others.
  • prep. Before: The time is ten to five.
  • prep. Up till; until: worked from nine to five.
  • prep. For the purpose of: went out to lunch.
  • prep. In honor of: a toast to the queen.
  • prep. Used before a verb to indicate the infinitive: I'd like to go.
  • prep. Used alone when the infinitive is understood: Go if you want to.
  • prep. Used to indicate the relationship of a verb with its complement: refer to a dictionary; refer me to a dictionary.
  • prep. Used with a reflexive pronoun to indicate exclusivity or separateness: had the plane to ourselves.
  • adv. In one direction; toward a person or thing: owls with feathers wrong end to.
  • adv. Into a shut or closed position: pushed the door to.
  • adv. Into a state of consciousness: The patient came to.
  • adv. Into a state of action or attentiveness: sat down for lunch and fell to.
  • adv. Nautical Into the wind.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • prep. A particle used for marking the following verb as an infinitive.
  • prep. As above, with the verb implied.
  • prep. Indicating destination: In the direction of, and arriving at.
  • prep. Used to indicate purpose.
  • prep. Indicating a necessity.
  • prep. Used to indicate result of action.
  • prep. Used after an adjective to indicate its application.
  • prep. Used to indicate ratios; in informal use the ratios are not reduced to smallest terms.
  • prep. Used to indicate that the preceding term is to be raised to the power of the following value; indicates exponentiation.
  • prep. Used to indicate the indirect object.
  • prep. Preceding.
  • prep. at
  • adv. Toward a closed, touching or engaging position.
  • adv. Into the wind.
  • adv. Common misspelling of too.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. to spend more than one's income; to get into debt.
  • n. to put one in a position to go on; to assist to start.
  • prep. The preposition to primarily indicates approach and arrival, motion made in the direction of a place or thing and attaining it, access; and also, motion or tendency without arrival; movement toward; -- opposed to from.
  • prep. Hence, it indicates motion, course, or tendency toward a time, a state or condition, an aim, or anything capable of being regarded as a limit to a tendency, movement, or action.
  • prep. In a very general way, and with innumerable varieties of application, to connects transitive verbs with their remoter or indirect object, and adjectives, nouns, and neuter or passive verbs with a following noun which limits their action. Its sphere verges upon that of for, but it contains less the idea of design or appropriation.
  • prep. As sign of the infinitive, to had originally the use of last defined, governing the infinitive as a verbal noun, and connecting it as indirect object with a preceding verb or adjective; thus, ready to go, i.e., ready unto going; good to eat, i.e., good for eating; I do my utmost to lead my life pleasantly. But it has come to be the almost constant prefix to the infinitive, even in situations where it has no prepositional meaning, as where the infinitive is direct object or subject; thus, I love to learn, i.e., I love learning; to die for one's country is noble, i.e., the dying for one's country. Where the infinitive denotes the design or purpose, good usage formerly allowed the prefixing of for to the to.
  • prep. In many phrases, and in connection with many other words, to has a pregnant meaning, or is used elliptically.
  • prep. Extent; limit; degree of comprehension; inclusion as far as.
  • prep. Effect; end; consequence.
  • prep. Apposition; connection; antithesis; opposition; as, they engaged hand to hand.
  • prep. Accord; adaptation.
  • prep. Comparison.
  • prep. Addition; union; accumulation.
  • prep. Accompaniment.
  • prep. Character; condition of being; purpose subserved or office filled.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A word used to express the relation of direction or tendency, with many modified and related senses.
  • In the direction of; unto; toward: indicating direction or motion toward a place, point, goal, state, condition, or position, or toward something to be done or to be treated: opposed to from.
  • As far as: indicating a point or limit reached or to be reached in space, time, or degree; expressing extent of continuance, or proceeding, or degree of comprehension, or inclusion.
  • For; unto: indicating an actual or supposed limit to movement or action, or denoting destination, design, purpose, or aim: as, the horse is broken to saddle or harness.
  • Unto: indicating a result or effect produced; denoting a consequence or end: as, he was flattered to his ruin; it was reported to her shame.
  • Upon; besides: denoting addition, contribution, or possession.
  • Upon; on: denoting contact, junction, or union.
  • Compared with: denoting comparison, proportion, or measure.
  • Against; over against: denoting opposition, contrast, or antithesis: as, to wager three to one; they engaged hand to hand.
  • In accordance, congruity, or harmony with: denoting agreement, adaptation, or adjustment: as, a plan drawn to scale; painted to the life.
  • In accompaniment with: as, she sang to his guitar.
  • In the character, quality, or shape of; for; as.
  • Regarding; concerning: as to: denoting relation: as, to plead to the charge; to speak to the question.
  • Denoting application or attention: as, he fell to work.
  • In connection with; appurtenant: denoting attribution, appurtenance, or belonging: as, a cap with a tassel to it.
  • In a great variety of cases to supplies the place of the dative in other languages: it connects transitive verbs with their indirect or distant objects, and adjectives, nouns, and neuter or passive verbs with a following noun which limits their action.
  • After adjectives, it points to the person or thing with respect to which, or in whose interest, a quality is shown or perceived: as, a substance sweet to the taste; an event painful to the mind.
  • To is used as ordinary “sign” of the infinitive (like the corresponding zu in German, à and de in French, a and di in Italian, att in Swedish, etc).
  • To is not used before the infinitive after the ordinary auxiliaries, as do, will, can, may, etc.; also not after various other verbs, as, see, hear, let, etc.; while after a few it is sometimes omitted or sometimes retained against more common usage to the contrary. After a noun or an adjective to is always used.
  • To was formerly used even after another preposition, especially for, and is still so used dialectally and vulgarly: as, what are you going for to do? Rarely after other prepositions, as from; but very commonly after about, about to signifying immediate futurity: as, he is about to go.
  • After be and have, the infinitive with to denotes something future, especially with the implication of duty or necessity: as, it is still to do (or to be done); I have it to do (or have to do it).
  • Colloquially, an inflnitive after to, when it is a repetition of a preceding inflnitive, is often omitted: as, I don't go because I don't wish to.
  • In various obsolete, provincial, or colloquial uses: after; against; at; by; for; in; of; on; with; before; etc.
  • To a place in view; forward; on.
  • To the thing to be done: denoting motion and application to a thing.
  • To its place; together: denoting the joining or closing of something separated or open: as, shut the door to.
  • In a certain direction: as, sloped to.
  • Till.
  • An old spelling of too, toe, two.
  • n. A Japanese grain and liquid measure containing 1097.52 cubic inches, or a little less than half an imperial bushel.
  • n. A prefix of Anglo-Saxon origin, being the preposition and adverb to so used: as in toname.
  • n. A prefix of Anglo-Saxon origin, meaning ‘apart, away,’ and denoting separation, negation, or intensity

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English ; see de- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English to ("to"), from Old English  ("to"), from Proto-Germanic *tō, *ta (“to”), from Proto-Indo-European *de, *do (“to”). Cognate with Low German to ("to"), Dutch toe ("to"), German zu ("to"), West Frisian ta ("to"). Non-Germanic cognates include Albanian te ("to, at"), tu ("while, for, to"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • When, after the dropping of the _ne_ ending, the idea of purpose had to be conveyed by the infinitive, it became usual in Elizabethan literature to place _for_ before the _to_, "And _for to_ deck heaven's battlements."

    Higher Lessons in English A work on english grammar and composition

  • II.v. 35, &c. _That Man is not to be deemed_ imperfect, _but a Being suited to his_ place _and_ rank _in the creation, agreeable to the_ general Order _of things, and conformable to_ Ends _and_ Relations _to him unknown_.

    The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems

  • His words are, "to _yield obedience to_ the commands of a King, if against the true religion, against the ancient and fundamental laws of the land, is another sign of an ill subject:" -- "To _resist_ the lawful power of the King; to raise insurrection against the King; admit him adverse in his religion; _to conspire against his sacred person, or any ways to rebel, though commanding things against our consciences in exercising religion, or against the rights and privileges of the subject_, is an absolute sign of the disaffected and traitorous subject."

    Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  • It is nearly the end of the year now, time to close the books on 1988 —            to render an accounting totals in two columns praying that the numbers tie and

    Go Yonder and Worship, part 1

  •   It is also helpful for listening to wheel bearings by touching the brass tube to the axle while the wheel is spinning,  to determine if they need to be overhauled.

    Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Bike creaking solutions

  • He also asked for orders to “direct” the IRS “to undertake a complete re-evaluation of the facts in this matter, begin an investigation of this matter, open a case file and take whatever steps may be necessary to determine” the validity of his information.

    Tax Informant Wins Ruling In Dillon Fortune Case

  • One day you would to call,  to ask to borrow an Allman Brothers CD.

    Your Old Untrue Love

  • Pediatric exposure to sarcasm has increased dramatically over the past forty years according to the Institute for the Study of Obvious Phenomena at Bowling Green University, as filmmakers have injected subtexts in animated cartoons that can be appreciated by parents who accompany their children to  the movies, and loser adults who go by themselves.

    Literal-Minded Parents Seek Irony-Free School Zones

  • While there's something morbid about companies that do lavish holiday parties and then sever staff, it's more distressing to read that Yahoo's plan is to  eliminate whole projects and move divisions between managers.

    Yahoo Layoffs: Cutting by the Numbers, and Not Making the Same Mistakes Again

  • Today, I want love to find me expressing it better to_______________________

    Dr. Cara Barker: Love Is Not a Spectator Sport

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