All to break (Judges ix. 53).

“A certain woman cast a piece of millstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to brake his skull” does not mean for the sake of breaking his skull, but that she wholly smashed his skull. A spurious form, owing its existence to a typographical mistake. The to really belongs to the verb; and in the last passage quoted it should be read “all to-brake.” The to is a Teutonic particle, meaning asunder, in pieces. It is very common in Old English, where we have “To-bite,” i.e. bite in pieces, tocleave, to-rend, to-tear. All is the adverb = entirely, wholly. So “all to bebattered” = wholly battered to pieces. All-to-frozen. Here

to-frozen is intensitive. So in Latin dis-crucior = valde crucior. Plautus (in his Menoechmi , ii. line 24) uses the phrase “dis-caveas malo,” i.e. be fully on your guard, etc., be very much beware of.

Gothic, dis; O. N., tor; Old High German, zar; Latin, dis; Greek, de.

“Mercutio's icy hand had all-to-frozen mine” i.e. wholly frozen up mine). —Romeo and Juliet (1362).

“Her wings were al-to-ruffled and sometimes impaired.” —Milton: Comus.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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