late 14c., an astrological term, "streaming ethereal power from the stars when in certain positions, acting upon character or destiny of men," from Old French influence "emanation from the stars that acts upon one's character and destiny" (13c.), also "a flow of water, a flowing in," from Medieval Latin influentia "a flowing in" (also used in the astrological sense), from Latin influentem (nominative influens), present participle of influere "to flow into, stream in, pour in," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (from PIE root *en "in") + fluere "to flow" (see fluent).
The range of senses in Middle English was non-personal, in reference to any outflowing of energy that produces effect, of fluid or vaporous substance as well as immaterial or unobservable forces. Meaning "exertion of unseen influence by persons" is from 1580s (a sense already in Medieval Latin, for instance Aquinas); meaning "capacity for producing effects by insensible or invisible means" is from 1650s. Under the influence (of alcohol, etc.) "drunk" first attested 1866.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to blow, swell," "with derivatives referring to various round objects and to the notion of tumescent masculinity" [Watkins].
It forms all or part of: bale (n.) "large bundle or package of merchandise prepared for transportation;" baleen; ball (n.1) "round object, compact spherical body;" balloon; ballot; bawd; bold; bole; boll; bollocks; bollix; boulder; boulevard; bowl (n.) "round pot or cup;" bulk; bull (n.1) "bovine male animal;" bullock; bulwark; follicle; folly; fool; foosball; full (v.) "to tread or beat cloth to cleanse or thicken it;" ithyphallic; pall-mall; phallus.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek phyllon "leaf," phallos "swollen penis;" Latin flos "flower," florere "to blossom, flourish," folium "leaf;" Old Prussian balsinis "cushion;" Old Norse belgr "bag, bellows;" Old English bolla "pot, cup, bowl;" Old Irish bolgaim "I swell," blath "blossom, flower," bolach "pimple," bolg "bag;" Breton bolc'h "flax pod;" Serbian buljiti "to stare, be bug-eyed;" Serbo-Croatian blazina "pillow."
An extended form of the root, *bhleu- "to swell, well up, overflow," forms all or part of: affluent; bloat; confluence; effluent; effluvium; efflux; fluctuate; fluent; fluid; flume; fluor; fluorescence; fluoride; fluoro-; flush (v.1) "spurt, rush out suddenly, flow with force;" fluvial; flux; influence; influenza; influx; mellifluous; phloem; reflux; superfluous.
late 14c., "able to turn, revolving;" early 15c., "liable to constant change," from Latin volubilis "that turns around, rolling, flowing," figuratively (of speech) "fluent, rapid," from volvere "to turn around, roll" (from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve"). Meaning "fluent, talkative" is recorded from 1580s. Related: Volubly.
"talk glibly or rapidly, chatter," mid-15c., from Middle English pateren "mumble prayers rapidly" (late 14c.), a shortened form of paternoster in allusion to the low, indistinct repetition of the prayer in churches. Perhaps influenced by patter (v.1). The related noun is first recorded 1758, originally "cant language of thieves and beggars," later "glib or fluent talk of a stage comedian, salesman, etc." Compare piter-pater "a babbled prayer" (mid-15c.), also Devil's paternoster (1520s) "a grumbling and mumbling to oneself." A pattercove in 16c. canting slang was a strolling priest.
PATTERING. The maundering or pert replies of servants; also talk or palaver in order to amuse one intended to be cheated. [Grose, "Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 2nd edition. 1788]
[T]he Pater-noster, up to the time of the Reformation, was recited by the priest in a low voice as far as 'and lead us not into temptation' when the choir joined in. [John S. Farmer, "Musa Pedestris," 1896]