Old English hit, neuter nominative and accusative of third person singular pronoun, from Proto-Germanic demonstrative base *khi- (source also of Old Frisian hit, Dutch het, Gothic hita "it"), from PIE *ko- "this" (see he). Used in place of any neuter noun, hence, as gender faded in Middle English, it took on the meaning "thing or animal spoken about before."
The h- was lost due to being in an unemphasized position, as in modern speech the h- in "give it to him," "ask her," is heard only "in the careful speech of the partially educated" [Weekley]. It "the sex act" is from 1610s; meaning "sex appeal (especially in a woman)" first attested 1904 in works of Rudyard Kipling, popularized 1927 as title of a book by Elinor Glyn, and by application of It Girl to silent-film star Clara Bow (1905-1965). In children's games, the meaning "the one who must tag or catch the others" is attested from 1842.
From Old English as nominative of an impersonal verb or statement when the thing for which it stands is implied (it rains, it pleases me). After an intransitive verb, used transitively for the action denoted, from 1540s (originally in fight it out). That's it "there is no more" is from 1966; this is it "the anticipated or dreaded moment has arrived" is from 1942.
Old English losian "be lost, perish," from los "destruction, loss," from Proto-Germanic *lausa- (source also of Old Norse los "the breaking up of an army;" Old English forleosan "to lose, destroy," Old Frisian forliasa, Old Saxon farliosan, Middle Dutch verliesen, Old High German firliosan, German verlieren, as well as English -less, loss, loose). The Germanic word is from PIE *leus-, an extended form of root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart."
The verb also is merged with, or has taken the (weaker) sense of, the related Middle English leese "be deprived of, lose" (Old English leosan, a class II strong verb whose past participle loren survives in forlorn and love-lorn), from Proto-Germanic *leusanan (source also of Old High German virliosan, German verlieren, Old Frisian urliasa, Gothic fraliusan "to lose").
Hence lose in the transitive senses "part with accidentally, be deprived of, miss the possession or knowledge of" (money, blood, sleep, hair, etc.), c. 1200; "fail to keep, lose track of" (mid-13c.). Meaning "fail to preserve or maintain" is from mid-15c. Meaning "fail to gain or win" (something) is from c.1300; intransitive meaning "fail to win" (a game, contest, lawsuit, etc.) is from late 14c. Meaning "to cause (someone) to lose his way" is from 1640s; meaning "cease to have, be rid of" (something unwanted) is from 1660s.
To lose heart "become discouraged" is from 1744; to lose (one's) heart "fall in love" is from 1630s. To lose (one's) mind "become insane" is attested from c. 1500. To lose out "fail" is 1858, American English. To lose it "become distraught, break down and lose control of oneself" is by 1990s; the it probably being one's self-control or grip on reality. Related: Lost; losing.
as a modifier, attested by 1941. The expression is much older (1610s). Related: Do-it-yourselfer.
"divorced woman," 1764, from French divorcée, noun use of fem. past participle of divorcer (see divorce (v.)). It began to lose its italics by the 1880s. The male equivalent in French is divorcé.
"to lose hope, be without hope," mid-14c., despeiren, from Old French despeir-, stressed stem of desperer "be dismayed, lose hope, despair," from Latin desperare "to despair, to lose all hope," from de "without" (see de-) + sperare "to hope," from spes "hope" (from PIE root *spes- "prosperity;" see speed (n.)). Related: Despaired; despairing; despairingly.
Old English forgietan "lose the power of recalling to the mind; fail to remember; neglect inadvertently," from for-, used here probably with privative force, "away, amiss, opposite" + gietan "to grasp" (see get (v.)). To "un-get," hence "to lose" from the mind. A common Germanic construction (compare Old Saxon fargetan, Old Frisian forjeta, Dutch vergeten, Old High German firgezzan, German vergessen "to forget"). The physical sense would be "to lose (one's) grip on," but that is not recorded in any historical Germanic language. Figurative sense of "lose care for" is from late 13c. Related: Forgetting; forgot; forgotten.