- fold (v.)
- Old English faldan (Mercian), fealdan (West Saxon), transitive, "to bend (cloth) back over itself, wrap up, furl," class VII strong verb (past tense feold, past participle fealden), from Proto-Germanic *falthan, *faldan (cognates: Middle Dutch vouden, Dutch vouwen, Old Norse falda, Middle Low German volden, Old High German faldan, German falten, Gothic falþan).
The Germanic words are from PIE *pel-to- (cognates: Sanskrit putah "fold, pocket," Albanian pale "fold," Middle Irish alt "a joint," Lithuanian pleta "I plait"), from root *pel- (3) "to fold" (also source of Greek ploos "fold," Latin -plus).
Of the arms, from late Old English. Intransitive sense "become doubled upon itself" is from c.1300 (of the body); earlier "give way, fail" (mid-13c.). Sense of "to yield to pressure" is from late 14c. The weak conjugation developed from 15c. Related: Folded; folding.
- fold (n.1)
- "pen or enclosure for sheep or other domestic animals," Old English falæd, falud "stall, stable, cattle-pen," a general Germanic word (cognates: East Frisian folt "enclosure, dunghill," Dutch vaalt "dunghill," Danish fold "pen for sheep"), of uncertain origin. Figurative use by mid-14c.
- fold (n.2)
- "a bend or ply in anything," mid-13c., from fold (v.). Compare similarly formed Middle Dutch voude, Dutch vouw, Old High German falt, German Falte, Old Norse faldr.