masc. personal name, in medieval lore the name of one of Charlemagne's peers, friend of Roland, from French Olivier, from Middle Low German Alfihar, literally "elf-host, elf-army," from alf "elf" (see elf) + hari "host, army" (see harry (v.)). It is cognate with the Anglo-Saxon name Ælfhere. The form in Old French was influenced by olivier "olive tree."
Latinized form of the name of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Norðhymbre, which lay north of the river Humber (Latin Humbri fluminis, c. 720), an ancient pre-English river name of unknown origin. It was the leading power of England during part of the 7c. and 8c. Related: Northumbrian. The Northumbrians seem at times to have referred to the Mercians as Southumbrians. The English county name of Northumberland is attested from c. 1200 (North-humbre-lond).
Old English latin "in Latin," from Latin Latinus "Latin, Roman, in Latin," literally "belonging to Latium," the region of Italy around Rome, a name of uncertain origin. Possibly from PIE root *stela- "to spread, extend," with a sense of "flat country" (as opposed to the mountainous district of the Sabines), or from a prehistoric non-IE language. Old folk etymology connected it with Latin latere "to lie hidden," and a fable of Saturn.
The Latin word also is the source of Spanish and Italian ladino, Dutch latijn, German latein, Irish Gaelic laidionn (n.), Polish lacina, Russian latuinŭ. The more common form in Old English was læden (see Latin (n.)).
In reference to the Roman Catholic Church, 1550s. Used as a designation for "people whose languages descend from Latin" (1856), hence Latin America (1862). The Latin Quarter (French Quartier latin) of Paris, on the south (left) bank of the Seine, was the site of university buildings in the Middle Ages, hence it was the place where Latin was spoken. The surname Latimer means "interpreter," literally "a speaker of Latin."
The name was also changed by Anglo-French loss or metathesis of liquids in words containing -l-, -n-, or -r- (also evident in the derivatives of Old French Berengier "bear-spear" -- Old High German Beringar -- name of one of the paladins in the Charlemagne romances and a common given name in England 12c. and 13c., which has come down in surnames as Berringer, Bellanger, Benger, etc.). Thus Sarop- became Salop- and in the 12c. and 13c. the overwhelming spelling in government records was Salopesberie, which accounts for the abbreviation Salop for the modern county.
During all this, the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants (as opposed to the French scribes) still pronounced it properly, and regular sound evolutions probably produced a pronunciation something like Shrobesbury (which turns up on a 1327 patent roll). After a predictable -b- to -v- (a vowel in the Middle Ages) to -u- shift, the modern spelling begins to emerge 14c. and is fully established 15c.
Shrewsbury clock, for some reason, became proverbial for exactness, and thus, naturally, proverbial as indicating exaggeration of accuracy (1590s).