fife (n.) Look up fife at
1550s, from German Pfeife "fife, pipe," ultimately from Old High German pfifa; the English word is perhaps via Middle French fifre (15c.) from the same Old High German word. Imitative. German musicians provided music for most European courts in those days. As a verb from 1590s. Agent noun fifer is recorded earlier (1530s). Fife and drum is from 1670s.