- (used for expressing motion or direction toward a point, person, place, or thing approached and reached, as opposed to from): They came to the house.
- (used for expressing direction or motion or direction toward something) in the direction of; toward: from north to south.
- (used for expressing limit of movement or extension): He grew to six feet.
- (used for expressing contact or contiguity) on; against; beside; upon: a right uppercut to the jaw; Apply varnish to the surface.
- (used for expressing a point of limit in time) before; until: to this day; It is ten minutes to six. We work from nine to five.
- (used for expressing aim, purpose, or intention): going to the rescue.
- (used for expressing destination or appointed end): sentenced to jail.
- (used for expressing agency, result, or consequence): to my dismay; The flowers opened to the sun.
- (used for expressing a resulting state or condition): He tore it to pieces.
- (used for expressing the object of inclination or desire): They drank to her health.
- (used for expressing the object of a right or claim): claimants to an estate.
- (used for expressing limit in degree, condition, or amount): wet to the skin; goods amounting to $1000; Tomorrow's high will be 75 to 80°.
- (used for expressing addition or accompaniment) with: He added insult to injury. They danced to the music. Where is the top to this box?
- (used for expressing attachment or adherence): She held to her opinion.
- (used for expressing comparison or opposition): inferior to last year's crop; The score is eight to seven.
- (used for expressing agreement or accordance) according to; by: a position to one's liking; to the best of my knowledge.
- (used for expressing reference, reaction, or relation): What will he say to this?
- (used for expressing a relative position): parallel to the roof.
- (used for expressing a proportion of number or quantity) in; making up: 12 to the dozen; 20 miles to the gallon.
- (used for indicating the indirect object of a verb, for connecting a verb with its complement, or for indicating or limiting the application of an adjective, noun, or pronoun): Give it to me. I refer to your work.
- (used as the ordinary sign or accompaniment of the infinitive, as in expressing motion, direction, or purpose, in ordinary uses with a substantive object.)
- Mathematics. raised to the power indicated: Three to the fourth is 81 (34 = 81).
- toward a point, person, place, or thing, implied or understood.
- toward a contact point or closed position: Pull the door to.
- toward a matter, action, or work: We turned to with a will.
- into a state of consciousness; out of unconsciousness: after he came to.
- to and fro. fro(def 2).
Origin of to
- turn over.
- telegraph office.
- used to indicate the destination of the subject or object of an actionhe climbed to the top
- used to mark the indirect object of a verb in a sentencetelling stories to children
- used to mark the infinitive of a verbhe wanted to go
- as far as; untilworking from Monday to Friday
- used to indicate equality16 ounces to the pound
- against; upon; ontoput your ear to the wall
- before the hour offive minutes to four
- accompanied bydancing to loud music
- as compared with, as againstthe score was eight to three
- used to indicate a resulting conditionhe tore her dress to shreds; they starved to death
- a dialect word for at 1 he's to town; where's it to?
- towards a fixed position, esp (of a door) closed
Word Origin and History for to
Old English to "in the direction of, for the purpose of, furthermore," from West Germanic *to (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian to, Dutch too, Old High German zuo, German zu "to"), from PIE pronomial base *do- "to, toward, upward" (cf. Latin donec "as long as," Old Church Slavonic do "as far as, to," Greek suffix -de "to, toward," Old Irish do, Lithuanian da-).
In Old English, the preposition (go to town) leveled with the adverb (the door slammed to) except where the adverb retained its stress (tired and hungry too); there it came to be written with -oo (see too).
The nearly universal use of to with infinitives (to sleep, to dream, etc.) arose in Middle English out of the Old English dative use of to, and it helped drive out the Old English inflectional endings (though in this use to itself is a mere sign, without meaning).
Commonly used as a prefix in Middle English (to-hear "listen to," etc.), but few of these survive (to-do, together, and time references such as today, tonight, tomorrow -- Chaucer also has to-yeere). To and fro "side to side" is attested from mid-14c. Phrase what's it to you "how does that concern you?" goes back a long way:
Huæd is ðec ðæs?
[John xxi:22, in Lindisfarne Gospel, c.950]