Old English læt "occurring after the customary or expected time," originally "slow, sluggish, slack, lax, negligent," from Proto-Germanic *lata- (source also of Old Norse latr "sluggish, lazy," Middle Dutch, Old Saxon lat, Dutch laat, German laß "idle, weary," Gothic lats "weary, sluggish, lazy," latjan "to hinder"), from PIE *led- "slow, weary," from root *lē- "to let go, slacken."
From mid-13c. as "occurring in the latter part of a period of time." From c. 1400 as "being or occurring in the near, or not too distant, past; recent" (of late). From this comes the early 15c. sense "recently dead, not many years dead" (as in the late Mrs. Smith). Of menstruation, attested colloquially from 1962. Expression better late than never is attested from late 15c. As an adverb, from Old English late "slowly."
The compiler of the "Brut" chronicle, complaining of English fashions in the time of Edward III, notes that þe wemmen ... were so strete cloþed þat þey lete hange fox tailes sawyd beneþe with-inforþ hire cloþis forto hele and heyde hire ars. That is, the women's clothing was so tight/scanty "that they let hang fox tails sewn inside their clothes at the back to ... hide their arses," the which behavior, he writes, perauenture afterward brougte forþe & encausid many mys-happis & mischeuys in þe reaume of Engelond.
colloquial for "signature," 1903 (sometimes, through some unexplainable error, John Henry), from the Boston merchant and rebel (1736-1793), signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The extended sense is from his signing that dangerous document first or most flamboyantly.
John Hancock, president of Congress, was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence, writing his name in large, plain letters, and saying: "There; John Bull can read my name without spectacles. Now let him double the price on my head, for this is my defiance." [Hélène Adeline Guerber, "The Story of the Thirteen Colonies," New York, 1898]
The family name is attested from 1276 in Yorkshire, a diminutive (see cock (n.1)) of Hann, a very common given name in 13c. Yorkshire as a pet form of Henry or John.
The exact relationship between the noun and verb blab and blabber is difficult to determine. The noun was "[e]xceedingly common in 16th and 17th c.; unusual in literature since c 1750" [OED]. Middle English also had lab (v.) "talk foolishly, let out a secret" (late 14c.), said to be from continental Low Germanic; hence also labster (Middle English labestere, late 13c.) "female gossip, a scold."
She cries, 'Don't thee trouble thyself, Neighbour: Let them play a little; I'll put all to rights myself before I go.' But Things are never so put to rights, but that I find a great deal of Work to do after they are gone. Thus, Sir, I have all the Trouble and Pesterment of Children, without the pleasure of—calling them my own .... [Ben Franklin, "The Busy-Body," Feb. 25, 1728 (29)]
late 14c., "to give in charge, entrust," from Latin committere "to unite, connect, combine; to bring together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + mittere "to release, let go; send, throw" (see mission).
The evolution of the modern range of meanings in English is not entirely clear. Sense of "to perpetrate (a crime), do, perform (especially something reprehensible)" was ancient in Latin; in English it is attested from mid-15c. Meaning "consign (someone) to custody (of prison, a mental institution, etc.) by official warrant" is from early 15c.
From 1530s as "trust (oneself) completely to;" from 1770 as "put or bring into danger by an irrevocable preliminary act." The intransitive use (in place of commit oneself) first recorded 1982, probably influenced by existentialism use (1948) of commitment to translate Sartre's engagement "emotional and moral engagement."
Old English sceawian "to look at, see, gaze, behold, observe; inspect, examine; look for, choose," from Proto-Germanic *skauwojan (source also of Old Saxon skauwon "to look at," Old Frisian skawia, Dutch schouwen, Old High German scouwon "to look at"), from Proto-Germanic root *skau- "behold, look at," from PIE *skou-, variant of root *keu- "to see, observe, perceive."
Causal meaning "let be seen; put in sight, make known" evolved c. 1200 for unknown reasons and is unique to English (German schauen still means "look at"). Spelling shew, popular 18c. and surviving into early 19c., represents obsolete pronunciation (rhymes with view). Horse racing sense is from 1903, perhaps from an earlier sense in card-playing.
For modern tree names from adjectives, compare aspen. OED suggests the use of the adjective as a noun is at least partly creditable to "translations of a German romance" (German linden is the plural form and the form used in compounds).
Meaning "overlapping strips in a window" (to let in air but keep out rain) first recorded 1550s. The form has been influenced by apparently unrelated French Louvre, the name of the palace in Paris, which is said to be so named because its builder, Philip Augustus, intended it as a wolf kennel. Related: Louvered, louvred.