- pole (n.2)
- "ends of Earth's axis," late 14c., from Old French pole or directly from Latin polus "end of an axis;" also "the sky, the heavens" (a sense sometimes used in English from 16c.), from Greek polos "pivot, axis of a sphere, the sky," from PIE *kwol- "turn round," from root *kwel- (1) forming words to do with turning, rolling, and wheels (see cycle (n.)).
- Pole (n.)
- "inhabitant or native of Poland," 1650s, from German Pole, singular of Polen, from Polish Polanie "Poles," literally "field-dwellers," from pole "field," related to Old Church Slavonic polje "field," from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat, to spread" (see plane (n.1)).
- pole (v.)
- "to furnish with poles," 1570s, from pole (n.1). Meaning "to push with a pole" is from 1753. Related: Poled; poling.
- pole (n.1)
- "stake," late Old English pal "stake, pole, post," a general Germanic borrowing (Old Frisian and Old Saxon pal "stake," Middle Dutch pael, Dutch paal, Old High German pfal, Old Norse pall) from Latin palus "stake," from PIE *pakslo-, suffixed form of root *pag- "to fasten."
Racing sense of "inside fence surrounding a course" is from 1851; pole position in auto racing attested from 1904.
A ten-foot pole as a metaphoric measure of something one would not touch something (or someone) else with is by 1839, American English. The ten-foot pole was a common tool used to set stakes for fences, etc., and the phrase "Can't touch de bottom with a ten foot pole" is in the popular old minstrel show song "Camptown Races."
"I saw her eat."
"No very unnatural occurrence I should think."
"But she ate an onion!"
"Right my boy, right, never marry a woman who would touch an onion with a ten foot pole."
["The Collegian," University of Virginia, 1839]