- milk (n.)
- Old English meoluc (West Saxon), milc (Anglian), from Proto-Germanic *meluks "milk" (source also of Old Norse mjolk, Old Frisian melok, Old Saxon miluk, Dutch melk, Old High German miluh, German Milch, Gothic miluks), from *melk- "to milk," from PIE root *melg- "to wipe, to rub off," also "to stroke; to milk," in reference to the hand motion involved in milking an animal (source also of Greek amelgein, Latin mulgere, Old Church Slavonic mlesti, Lithuanian melžu "to milk," Old Irish melg "milk," Sanskrit marjati "wipes off"). Old Church Slavonic noun meleko (Russian moloko, Czech mleko) is considered to be adopted from Germanic.
Of milk-like plant juices from late 14c. Milk chocolate is first recorded 1723; milk shake is first recorded 1889, for a variety of creations, but the modern version is only from the 1930s. Milk tooth (1727) uses the word in its figurative sense "period of infancy," attested from 17c. To cry over spilt milk is first attested 1836 in writing of Canadian humorist Thomas C. Haliburton. Milk and honey is from the Old Testament phrase describing the richness of the Promised Land (Num. xvi:13, Old English meolc and hunie). Milk of human kindness is from "Macbeth" (1605).
- milk (v.)
- Old English melcan, milcian, meolcian "to milk, give milk, suckle," from Proto-Germanic *melk- "to milk" (source also of Dutch melken, Old High German melchan, German melken), from PIE root *melg- (see milk (n.)). Figurative sense of "exploit for profit" is first found 1520s. Related: Milked; milking.