Learn English – Why is “will not” contracted as “won’t”?


Possible Duplicate:
What is “won't” a contraction of?

The Why is "cannot" spelled as one word? post brought back another oddity I noticed when learning English. The contraction won't seems to break a common pattern in similar contractions:

  • cannot => can't
  • do not => don't
  • should not => shouldn't
  • would not => wouldn't

In these examples, the o sound in not is dropped and the letter o (no in the case of cannot) is replaced with an apostrophe.

However, will not => won't drops ill from will and replaces it with the o from not. This contraction is probably derived from shifts in speech rather than writing. How did the contraction won't emerge?

Best Answer

The building pattern you are proposing is not what happened. As you can see here, will not was built from woll + not, which assimilated to wonnot and then to won't.

The use of woll comes from the Proto-Indo-European stem wel- or wol-, refelcted still in the German verb wollen: to will, desire, wish.

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