"strong, powerful; great, mighty; of high rank," in later Old English "wealthy," from Proto-Germanic
(source also of Old Norse
, Old Frisian
"wealthy, mighty," Dutch
, Old High German
"ruler, powerful, rich," German
"ruler, powerful, rich"), borrowed from a Celtic source akin to Gaulish
, Old Irish
) "king," from PIE root
"move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule" (compare
The form of the word was influenced in Middle English by Old French
"wealthy, magnificent, sumptuous," which is, with Spanish
, from Frankish
"powerful," or some other cognate Germanic source.
Old English also had a noun,
"rule, reign, power, might; authority; empire." The evolution of the word reflects a connection between wealth and power in the ancient world. Of food and colors, from early 14c.; of sounds, from 1590s. Sense of "entertaining, amusing" is recorded from 1760. The noun meaning "the wealthy" was in Old English.
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