Etymology
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yard (n.2)

measure of length, Old English gerd (Mercian), gierd (West Saxon) "rod, staff, stick; measure of length," from West Germanic *gazdijo, from Proto-Germanic *gazdjo "stick, rod" (source also of Old Saxon gerda, Old Frisian ierde, Dutch gard "rod;" Old High German garta, German gerte "switch, twig," Old Norse gaddr "spike, sting, nail"), from PIE root *ghazdh-o- "rod, staff, pole" (source also of Latin hasta "shaft, staff"). The nautical yard-arm retains the original sense of "stick."

Originally in Anglo-Saxon times a land measure of roughly 5 meters (a length later called rod, pole, or perch). Modern measure of "three feet" is attested from late 14c. (earlier rough equivalent was the ell of 45 inches, and the verge). In Middle English and after, the word also was a euphemism for "penis" (as in "Love's Labour's Lost," V.ii.676). Slang meaning "one hundred dollars" first attested 1926, American English. Middle English yerd (Old English gierd) also was "yard-land, yard of land," a varying measure but often about 30 acres or a quarter of a hide.

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yard (n.1)

"patch of ground around a house," Old English geard "fenced enclosure, garden, court; residence, house," from Proto-Germanic *gardan- (source also of Old Norse garðr "enclosure, garden, yard;" Old Frisian garda, Dutch gaard, Old High German garto, German Garten "garden;" Gothic gards "house," garda "stall"), of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE *ghor-to-, suffixed form of root *gher- (1) "to grasp, enclose," with derivatives meaning "enclosure."

As "college campus enclosed by the main buildings," 1630s. Shipyard is from c. 1700. In railway usage, "ground adjacent to a train station or terminus, used for switching or coupling trains," 1827. Yard sale is attested by 1976.

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yardage (n.)
"aggregate number of yards," 1900 in sports, from yard (n.2) + -age.
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yard-arm (n.)
also yardarm, 1550s, from yard (n.2) in the nautical sense (attested from Old English) + arm (n.1). In 19c. British naval custom, it was permissible to begin drinking when the sun was over the yard-arm.
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yardbird (n.)
"convict," 1956, from yard (n.1) + bird (n.1), from the notion of prison yards; earlier it meant "basic trainee" (World War II armed forces slang).
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yardstick (n.)
also yard-stick, 1797, from yard (n.2) + stick (n.).
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yare (adj.)
"ready, prepared," Old English gearo "ready, prepared, equipped," from gearwian "to equip, prepare" (related to gearwe "clothing, dress") from Proto-Germanic *garwjan "to make, prepare, equip, ready, complete" (see gear (n.)). Cognate with German gar, Dutch gaar. Related: Yarely.
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yarmulke (n.)
1903, from Yiddish yarmulke, from Polish jarmułka, originally "a skullcap worn by priests," perhaps ultimately from Medieval Latin almutia "cowl, hood."
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yarn (n.)

Old English gearn "spun fiber, spun wool," from Proto-Germanic *garnan (source also of Old Norse, Old High German, German garn, Middle Dutch gaern, Dutch garen "yarn"), from PIE root *ghere- "intestine, gut, entrail." The phrase to spin a yarn "to tell a story" is first attested 1812, from a sailors' expression, on notion of telling stories while engaged in sedentary work such as yarn-twisting.

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yarrow (n.)

plant, also known as milfoil, Old English gearwe "yarrow," from Proto-Germanic *garwo (source also of Middle Dutch garwe, Old High German garawa, German Garbe), which is perhaps from a source akin to the root of yellow (adj.).

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