I. Meaning

  1. The primary meaning of abhi is that of taking possession and mastering, as contained in E. coming by and over-coming, thus literally having the function of facing and aggressing = towards, against on to, at (see II.1a and b) mastering = over, along over, out over, on top of (see II. 1.b).
  2. Out of this is developed the fig. meaning of increasing, i.e., an intensifying of the action implied in the verb (see III. 1) Next to saṃ-it is the most frequent modification preflx in the meaning of “very much, greatly” as the first part of a double-prefix cpd. (see III. 2), and therefore often seemingly superfluous, i.e., weakened in meaning, where the second part already denotes intensity as in abhi-vi-ji (side by side with vi-ji), abhi-ā-kkhā (side by side with ā-kkhā), abhi-anu-mud (side by side with anu-mud). In these latter cases abhi shows a purely deictic character corresponding to Ger. her-bei-kommen (for bei-kommen) E. fill up (for fill); e.g. , abbhatikkanta (= ati ˚ C.) abbhatīta (“vorbei gegangen”), abbhantara (“with-in” b-innen or “in here”), abbhudāharati, abhipūreti (“fill up”) etc. (see also II. 1.c).

II. Lit. Meaning

  1. As single pref.:

    1. against to, on to, at-, viz., abbhatthangata gone towards home abhighāta striking at, ˚jjhā think at, ˚mana thinking on ˚mukha facing, turned towards, ˚yāti at-tack, ˚rūhati ascend ˚lāsa long for, ˚vadati ad-dress, ˚sapati ac-curse, ˚hata hit at.
    2. out, over, all around: abbhudeti go out over ˚kamati exceed, ˚jāti off-spring, ˚jānāti know all over ˚bhavati overcome, ˚vaḍḍhati increase, ˚vuṭṭha poured out or over, ˚sandeti make over-flow, ˚siñcati sprinkle over
    3. abhi has the function of transitivising intrs. verbs after the manner of E. be-(con-) and Ger. er-, thus resembling in meaning a simple Caus. formation, like the foll.: abhigajjati thunder on, ˚jānāti “er-kennen” ˚jāyati be-get, ˚tthaneti = ˚gajjati, ˚nadati “er tönen”, ˚nandati approve of (cp. anerkennen), ˚passati con-template, ˚ramati indulge in, ˚ropeti honour, ˚vuḍḍha increased, ˚saddahati believe in.
  2. As base in compn. (2nd part of cpd.) abhi occurs only in combn. sam-abhi (which is however, of late occurrence and a peeuliarity of later texts, and is still more freq. in BSk.: see under sam-).

III. Fig. Meaning (intensifying).

A single pref. abhikiṇṇa strewn all over, ˚jalati shine forth, ˚jighacchati be very hungry, ˚tatta much exhausted, ˚tāpa very hot ˚toseti pleuse greatly, ˚nava quite fresh, ˚nipuṇa very clever, ˚nīla of a deep black, ˚manāpa very pleasant ˚mangaly very lucky, ˚yobbana full youth, ˚rati great liking, ˚ratta deep red, ˚ruci intense satisfaction, ˚rūpa very handsome (= adhika-rūpa C.), ˚sambuddha wide and fully-awake, cp. abbhuddhunāti to shake greatly (adhikaṃuddh˚ C.)
■ As 1st part of a prep-cpd. (as modification-pref.) in foll. combinations: abhi-ud (abbhud-˚ati, ˚anu, ˚ava, ˚ā, ˚ni, ˚ppa, ˚vi, ˚saṃ. See all these s. v. and note that the contraction (assimilation before vowel) form of abhi is abbh˚
■ On its relation to pari see *pari*˚, to ava see ava˚.

IV. Dialectical Variation

There are dial. variations in the use and meanings of abhi. Vedic abhi besides corresponding to abhi in P. is represented also by ati˚; adhi˚; and anu˚; since all are similar in meaning, and psychologically easily fused and confused (cp. meanings abhi = on to, towards; ati = up to and beyond; adhi up to, towards, over; anu = along towards). For all the foll. verbs we find in Pāli one or other of these three prefixes. So ati in ˚jāti, ˚pīḷita, ˚brūheti, ˚vassati, ˚vāyati ˚veṭheti; also as vv.ll. with abhi-kīrati, ˚pavassati, ˚roceti cp. atikkanta-abhi˚ (Sk. abhikrānta); adhi in ˚patthita ˚pāteti, ˚ppāya, ˚ppeta, ˚bādheti, ˚bhū, ˚vāha (vice versa P. abhi-ropeti compared with Sk. adhiropayati); anu in ˚gijjhati, ˚brūheti, ˚sandahati.

prefix, Vedic abhi, which represents both Idg *m̊bhi, as in Gr. ἀμφί/ around, Lat. ambi, amb round about, Oir imb, Gall. ambi, Ohg. umbi, Ags. ymb, cp. also Vedic (Pāli) abhitaḥ on both sides; and Idg. *obhi, as in Lat ob towards, against (cp. obsess, obstruct), Goth. bi, Ohg Ags. bī = E. be-.