From Old English formest, fyrmest, from Proto-Germanic *frumistaz, from the locative stem *fur-, *fr- + the superlative suffix *-umistaz, stem ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *pr-. The suffix *-umistaz was a compound suffix, created from the rarer comparative suffix *-umô (as in Old English fruma) + the regular superlative suffix *-istaz (English -est); *-umô in turn is from Proto-Indo-European *-mHo-.
Cognate with Old Frisian formest, Gothic 𐍆𐍂𐌿𐌼𐌹𐍃𐍄𐍃. See for, first and Old English fruma for more. Partially cognate to primus, from Proto-Indo-European *pr- + Latin superlative suffix -imus, from Proto-Indo-European *-mHo-.
A comparative former was back-formed analogically, leaving the m from *-umô in place. Later the Old English suffix complex -(u)m-est was conflated with the word most through folk etymology, so that the word is now interpreted as fore + -most.
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