c. 1300, "a bed," also "bed-like vehicle carried on men's shoulders" (early 14c.), from Anglo-French litere "portable bed," Old French litiere "litter, stretcher, bier; straw, bedding" (12c.), from Medieval Latin lectaria "litter," from Latin lectus "bed, lounge, sofa, dining-couch," from PIE *legh-to-, suffixed form of root *legh- "to lie down, lay."
Altered in French by influence of lit "bed." The meaning was extended early 15c. to "straw used for bedding" (this sense is early 14c. in Anglo-French) and by late 15c. to "offspring of an animal at one birth" (that is, in one bed). Litter by 19c. had come to mean both the straw bedding and the animal waste in it after use. The sense of "scattered oddments, disorderly debris" is first attested 1730 and probably is from litter (v.) "provide with bedding" (late 14c.) and sense extended from the image of strewing straw.
"small wheel or roller," late 14c., from Anglo-French trocle, from Latin trochlea "a small wheel, sheaf of a pulley," from Greek trokhileia "a system of pulleys," from trokhos "wheel," from trekhein "to run," from PIE root *dhregh- "to run" (source also of Old Irish droch "wheel," Lithuanian drožti "to run fast"). Truckle bed "small bed on wheels that can be stowed under a larger bed" is from mid-15c.
Old English leger "act or place of lying down; bed, couch; illness; the grave," from Proto-Germanic *legraz (source also of Old Norse legr "the grave," also "nuptials" (both "a lying down"); Old Frisian leger "situation," Old Saxon legar "bed," Middle Dutch legher "act or place of lying down," Dutch leger "bed, camp," Old High German legar "bed, a lying down," German Lager "bed, lair, camp, storehouse," Gothic ligrs "place of lying"), from PIE root *legh- "to lie down, lay." Meaning "animal's den" is from early 15c. Essentially the same word as layer (n.), but more ancient and differentiated in sense.
also bed-ridden, "confined to bed by age, infirmity, or sickness," mid-14c., from late Old English bæddrædæn "bedridden," adjective from bedreda "bedridden (man)," literally "bedrider," from bed + rida "rider" (see ride (v.)). Originally a noun, it became an adjective and acquired an -en on the analogy of past-participle adjectives from strong verbs such as ride.
1690s, from Latin torus "couch, marriage bed, stuffed cushion" + -al (1).
"baby's bed," usually mounted on rockers or suspended for rocking or swinging, c. 1200, cradel, from Old English cradol "little bed, cot," from Proto-Germanic *kradulaz "basket" (source also of Old High German kratto, krezzo "basket," German Krätze "basket carried on the back").
Figurative sense of "the place where any person or thing is nurtured in the early stages of existence" is from 1580s. The word also was used from late 14c. in reference to various mechanical devices for holding or hoisting. As "frame of wood with long, curved teeth and a scythe blade for cutting grain and laying it in a straight swath," 1570s. As "rest on a telephone for the receiver when not in use" is from 1903.
The children's game of cat's-cradle is so called by 1768. Cradle-snatching "amorous pursuit of younger person" is from 1906.
"It's like cradle-snatching to want to marry a girl of sixteen, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself, for you can't be much more than twenty one yourself." ["Edith Van Dyne" (L. Frank Baum), "Aunt Jane's Nieces Abroad," 1906]