"piece of shaped cloth spread so as to catch the wind and cause a vessel to move in water," Old English segl "sail, veil, curtain," from Proto-Germanic *seglom (source also of Old Saxon, Swedish segel, Old Norse segl, Old Frisian seil, Dutch zeil, Old High German segal, German Segel), of obscure origin with no known cognates outside Germanic (Irish seol, Welsh hwyl "sail" are Germanic loan-words). In some sources (Klein, OED) referred to PIE root *sek- "to cut," as if meaning "a cut piece of cloth."
As "a single ship or vessel" by 1510s. To take the wind out of (someone's) sails (1888) is to deprive (someone) of the means of progress, especially by sudden and unexpected action, "as by one vessel sailing between the wind and another vessel" ["The Encyclopaedic Dictionary," 1888].
early 14c., literally "a being driven" (at first of snow, rain, etc.); not recorded in Old English, it is either a suffixed form of drive (v.) (compare thrift/thrive) or borrowed from Old Norse drift "snow drift," or Middle Dutch drift "pasturage, drove, flock," both from Proto-Germanic *driftiz (source also of Danish and Swedish drift, German Trift), from PIE root *dhreibh- "to drive, push" (see drive (v.)).
"A being driven," hence "anything driven," especially a number of things or a heap of matter driven or moving together (mid-15c.). Figurative sense of "aim, intention, what one is getting at" (on the notion of "course, tendency") is from 1520s. Nautical sense of "deviation of a ship from its course in consequence of currents" is from 1670s. Meaning "controlled slide of a sports car" attested by 1955.
As a portable contrivance for raising weight by force from below, 1703. As the name of a device for pulling off boots from 1670s. The jack in a pack of playing cards (1670s) is in German Bauer "peasant." Slang meaning "money" is by 1890 (in earlier slang it meant "a small coin"). Jack-towel, one sewn together at the ends round a roller, is from 1795. The jack of Union Jack is a nautical term for "small flag at the bow of a ship" (1630s) and perhaps is from the word's secondary sense of "smaller than normal size."
late 15c., "to raise a nap on cloth," from rough (adj.). From 1763 in the general sense of "give a rough condition or appearance to, scrape or rub up the surface of." Related: Roughed; roughing. The phrase rough it "put up with coarse or casual conditions, submit to hardships" (1768) is nautical:
To lie rough; to lie all night in one's clothes: called also roughing it. Likewise to sleep on the bare deck of a ship, when the person is commonly advised to chuse the softest plank. [Grose, "Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1788]
To rough out "shape or plan approximately" is by 1770. To rough up "make rough" is from 1763. Rough (v.) in the sense of "deal roughly with" is by 1845, hence to rough (someone) up "beat up, jostle violently" is from 1868. The U.S. football penalty roughing originally was a term from boxing (1866).
In modern use restricted to the loading of ships; past participle laden was active in the language longer, but in 20c. was displaced by loaded (but a distinct word in the literal sense would be useful) except in particular phrases. Compare Lading.
"having sufficient power or means," early 14c., from Old French (h)able "capable; fitting, suitable; agile, nimble" (14c.), from Latin habilem, habilis "easily handled, apt," verbal adjective from habere "to hold" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive").
"Easy to be held," hence "fit for a purpose." The silent h- was dropped in English and resisted academic attempts to restore it 16c.-17c. (see H), but some derivatives (such as habiliment, habilitate) acquired it via French. Able seaman, one able to do any sort of work required on a ship, may be the origin of this:
Able-whackets - A popular sea-game with cards, in which the loser is beaten over the palms of the hands with a handkerchief tightly twisted like a rope. Very popular with horny-fisted sailors. [Smyth, "Sailor's Word-Book," 1867]
"that runs, capable of moving quickly," late 14c., rennynge, present-participle adjective from run (v.), replacing earlier erninde, from Old English eornende. The meaning "rapid, hasty, done on the run" is from c. 1300. The sense of "continuous, carried on continually" is from late 15c.
Running-jump is from 1914. A running-mate (1865) originally was a horse entered in a race to set the pace for another from the same stable who was intended to win; U.S. "vice-presidential candidate" sense is recorded from 1888. Running-board is attested by 1817 in reference to a narrow gangway on either side of a ship or boat; extended by 1907 to the footboards of cars and trucks.
Running dog is recorded by 1937, from Chinese and later North Korean communist phrases used to describe supposed imperialist lackeys, such as Mandarin zou gou "running dog," on the notion of a dog that runs at its master's command.
Middle English le, leoh, from Old English hleo "shelter, cover, defense, protection," from Proto-Germanic *khlewaz (source also of Old Norse hle, Danish læ, Old Saxon hleo, Dutch lij "lee, shelter"). The original sense is uncertain; it might have been "warm" (compare German lau "tepid," Old Norse hly "shelter, warmth"), and Watkins traces it to a PIE *kle-wo-, a suffixed variant form of the root *kele- (1) "warm."
Nautical sense "that part of the hemisphere to which the wind is directed" (c. 1400) is of Scandinavian origin, from the notion of the side of the ship opposite that which receives the wind as the sheltered side. As an adjective, 1510s, from the noun. The lee shore is that toward which the wind blows. Middle English also had lewth "warmth, shelter," Old English hleowþ, with Proto-Germanic abstract noun suffix *-itho (see -th (2)). Also compare lukewarm.
1761, "any disabled person or thing;" especially Stock Exchange slang for "defaulter."
A lame duck is a man who cannot pay his differences, and is said to waddle off. [Thomas Love Peacock, "Gryll Grange," 1861]
Sometimes also in naval use for "an old, slow ship." Modern sense of "public official serving out term after an election" is recorded by 1863, American English. The quote attributed to President Lincoln ("[A] senator or representative out of business is a sort of lame duck. He has to be provided for") is from an anecdote of 1878.
It is well known to everybody who knows anything of its history, that this court [Court of Claims] was made a sort of retreat for lame duck politicians that got wounded and had to retreat before the face of popular condemnation. That is just exactly what it was for, a safe retreat for lame ducks; and it was so filled up; (etc.) [Sen. John P. Hale, New Hampshire, Congressional Globe, Jan. 12, 1863, p.271]
late 13c. (c. 1200 as a surname), "thick board used in construction," from Old North French planke, a variant of Old French planche "plank, slab, little wooden bridge" (12c.), from Late Latin planca "broad slab, board," probably from Latin plancus "flat, flat-footed," from a nasalized variant of PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat." Planche itself was also used in Middle English.
Technically, timber sawed to measure 2 to 6 inches thick, 9 inches or more wide, and 8 feet or more long. The political sense of "article or paragraph formulating a distinct principle in a party platform" is U.S. coinage from 1848, based on the double sense of platform. To be made to walk the plank, "be forced to walk along a plank laid across the bulwarks of a ship until one reaches the end and falls into the sea," popularly supposed to have been a pirate form of execution, is attested from 1789, and most early references are to slave-ships disposing of excess human cargo in crossing the ocean.