Middle English durren, daren, from first and third person singular of Old English durran "be bold enough, have courage" (to do something), also transitive "to venture, presume," from Proto-Germanic *ders- (source also of Old Norse dearr, Old High German giturran, Gothic gadaursan), according to Watkins from PIE root *dhers- "bold" (source also of Sanskrit dadharsha "to be bold;" Old Persian darš- "to dare;" Greek thrasys "bold," tharsos "confidence, courage, audacity;" Old Church Slavonic druzate "to be bold, dare;" Lithuanian drįsti "to dare," drąsus "courageous").
An Old English irregular preterite-present verb: darr, dearst, dear were first, second and third person singular present indicative; mostly regularized 16c., though past tense dorste survived as durst, but is now dying, persisting mainly in northern English dialect.
Transitive sense of "attempt boldly to do" is from 1630s. Meaning "to challenge or defy (someone), provoke to action," especially by asserting or implying that one lacks the courage to accept the challenge, is by 1570s. Weakened sense in I dare say (late 14c.) "I suppose, I presume, I think likely," now usually implying more or less indifference. How dare you? is from c. 1200 (Hu durre ȝe).
"daring deeds, daring action," 1570s, originally (late 14c.) dorrying don, literally "daring (to) do," from durring "daring," present participle of Middle English durren "to dare" (see dare (v.)) + don, infinitive of do (v.). Chaucer used it in passages where the sense was "daring to do" (what is proper to a brave knight). Misspelled derrynge do in 1500s and mistaken for a noun by Spenser, who took it to mean "manhood and chevalrie;" picked up from him and passed on to Romantic poets as a pseudo-archaism by Sir Walter Scott.
1794, "recklessly daring person, one who fears nothing and will attempt anything," from dare (v.) + devil (n.). The devil might refer to the person, or the sense might be "one who dares the devil." For the formation, compare scarecrow, killjoy, dreadnought, pickpocket (n.), cut-throat, also fear-babe a 16c. word for "something that frightens children;" kill-devil "bad rum," sell-soul "one who sells his soul" (1670s).
As an adjective, "characteristic of a daredevil, reckless," by 1832. Related: Daredevilism; daredeviltry.
Old English agan (past tense ahte) "to have, to own," from Proto-Germanic *aiganan "to possess" (source also of Old Frisian aga "have to, ought to," Old Norse eiga, Old High German eigan, Gothic aigan "to possess, have"), from PIE root *aik- "be master of, possess."
The original sense is obsolete. The meaning "to have to repay, be indebted for" began in late Old English with the phrase agan to geldanne literally "to own to yield," which was used to translate Latin debere (earlier in Old English this would have been sceal "shall"); by late 12c. the phrase had been shortened to simply agan, and own (v.) took over this word's original sense.
The intransitive meaning "be in debt" is from mid-15c. To be owing to "be due or attributable to" is by 1650s.
c. 1300, defien, "to renounce one's allegiance;" mid-14c., "to challenge to fight, dare to meet in combat;" from Old French defier, desfier "to challenge, defy, provoke; renounce (a belief), repudiate (a vow, etc.)," from Vulgar Latin *disfidare "renounce one's faith" (in Medieval Latin diffidare), from Latin dis- "away" (see dis-) + fidus "faithful" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade"). By 1670s as "dare (someone) to do something (that the challenger believes cannot or will not be done)."
early 15c., "to risk the loss" (of something), shortened form of aventure, itself a form of adventure. General sense of "to dare, to presume" is recorded from 1550s. Related: Ventured; venturing.
Nought venter nought have [Heywood, "Proverbs," 1546]