mid-14c., relien, "to gather, assemble" an army, followers, a host, etc. (transitive and intransitive), from Old French relier "assemble, put together; fasten, fasten again, attach, rally, oblige," from Latin religare "fasten, bind fast," from re-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see re-), + ligare "to bind" (from PIE root *leig- "to tie, bind").
The older sense now are obsolete. The meaning "depend on with full trust and confidence, attach one's faith to" a person or thing is from 1570s, perhaps via the notion of "rally to, fall back on." Typically used with on, perhaps by influence of unrelated lie (v.2) "rest horizontally." Related: Relied; relying.
The verb rely, in the orig. sense 'fasten, fix, attach,' came to be used with a special reference to attaching one's faith or oneself to a person or thing (cf. 'to pin one's faith to a thing,' 'a man to tie to,' colloquial phrases containing the same figure); in this use it became, by omission of the object, in transitive, and, losing thus its etymological associations (the other use, 'bring together again, rally,' having also become obsolete), was sometimes regarded, and has been by some etymologists actually explained, as a barbarous compound of re- + E. lie (1) rest, .... But the pret. would then have been *relay, pp. *relain. [Century Dictionary]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to tie, bind."
It forms all or part of: alloy; ally; colligate; deligate; furl; league (n.1) "alliance;" legato; liable; liaison; lien; lictor; ligand; ligament; ligate; ligation; ligature; oblige; rally (v.1) "bring together;" religion; rely.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin ligare "to bind;" Albanian lidh "I bind," and possibly Middle Low German lik "band," Middle High German geleich "joint, limb."
1560s, raliabill, "that may be relied on, fit to be depended on, trustworthy," originally Scottish; see rely + -able. Not common before 1850, and often execrated thereafter in Britain as an Americanism because it involves a use of -able different from its use in provable, etc., and not warranted in classical Latin. But it is defended (by OED, Century Dictionary, etc.) on grounds of the suffix's sense in available, laughable, livable, dependable; indispensable, etc. Related: Reliably; reliableness. As a noun, "a reliable person, beast, or thing," by 1890 (with old).
Reliable expresses what cannot be expressed by any other one word. Moreover, it conveys an idea of constant occurrence. He who would be exact has, indeed, no alternative, if he avoids it except a periphrasis. [Fitzedward Hall, "On English Adjectives in -Able," 1877]
c. 1200, religioun, "state of life bound by monastic vows," also "action or conduct indicating a belief in a divine power and reverence for and desire to please it," from Anglo-French religiun (11c.), Old French religion, relegion "piety, devotion; religious community," and directly from Latin religionem (nominative religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods; conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation; fear of the gods; divine service, religious observance; a religion, a faith, a mode of worship, cult; sanctity, holiness," in Late Latin "monastic life" (5c.).
This noun of action was derived by Cicero from relegere "go through again" (in reading or in thought), from re- "again" (see re-) + legere "read" (see lecture (n.)). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (Servius, Lactantius, Augustine) and the interpretation of many modern writers connects it with religare "to bind fast" (see rely), via the notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods." In that case, the re- would be intensive. Another possible origin is religiens "careful," opposite of negligens.
In English, the meaning "particular system of faith in the worship of a divine being or beings" is by c. 1300; the sense of "recognition of and allegiance in manner of life (perceived as justly due) to a higher, unseen power or powers" is from 1530s.