- after (adv., prep.)
- Old English æfter "behind; later in time" (adv.); "behind in place; later than in time; in pursuit, following with intent to overtake" (prep.), from of "off" (see off (adv.)) + -ter, a comparative suffix; thus the original meaning was "more away, farther off." Compare Old Norse eptir "after," Old Frisian efter, Dutch achter, Old High German aftar, Gothic aftra "behind;" also see aft. Cognate with Greek apotero "farther off," Old Persian apataram "further."
From c. 1300 as "in imitation of." As a conjunction, "subsequent to the time that," from late Old English. After hours "after (regular working) hours" is from 1861. Afterwit "wisdom that comes too late" is attested from c. 1500 but seems to have fallen from use. After you as an expression in yielding precedence is recorded by 1650.