The accentuation of OE. MSS. shows that this verb differed, as in Goth. and ON., from other verbs of the same conjugation in having a long vowel in the pa[st] tense sing. ǽt, whence the mod. eat (i:t); but a form æt, with short vowel, must also have existed, as is proved by the ME. form at, mod. ate. The pronunc. (εt) is commonly associated with the written form ate, but perh. belongs rather to eat, with shortened vowel after analogy of wk. vbs. read, lead, etc.; cf. dial. (bεt) pa. tense of beat.
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