Middle English dampnen, also damnen, dammen, late 13c. as a legal term, "to condemn, declare guilty, convict;" c. 1300 in the theological sense of "doom to punishment in a future state," from Old French damner "damn, condemn; convict, blame; injure," derivative of Latin damnare "to adjudge guilty; to doom; to condemn, blame, reject," from noun damnum "damage, hurt, harm; loss, injury; a fine, penalty," from Proto-Italic *dapno-, possibly from an ancient religious term from PIE *dap- "to apportion in exchange" [Watkins] or *dhp-no- "expense, investment" [de Vaan]. The -p- in the English word disappeared 16c.
The legal meaning "pronounce judgment upon" evolved in the Latin word. The optative expletive use likely is as old as the theological sense. Damn and its derivatives generally were avoided in print from 18c. to 1930s (the famous line in the film version of "Gone with the Wind" was a breakthrough and required much effort by the studio). Meaning "judge or pronounce (a work) to be bad by public expression" is from 1650s; to damn with faint praise is from Pope.
The noun is recorded from 1610s, "utterance of the word 'damn.'" To be not worth a damn is from 1817. To not give (or care) a damn is by 1760. The adjective is 1775, short for damned; Damn Yankee, the characteristic Southern U.S. term for "Northerner," is attested by 1812 (as damned). Related: Damning.
Old English sceal, Northumbrian scule "I owe/he owes, will have to, ought to, must" (infinitive sculan, past tense sceolde), from *skulanan, a common Germanic preterite-present verb (along with can, may, will), from Proto-Germanic *skul- (source also of Old Saxon sculan, Old Frisian skil, Old Norse and Swedish skola, Middle Dutch sullen, Old High German solan, German sollen, Gothic skulan "to owe, be under obligation"). This is said to be related, via a past tense form, to Old English scyld "guilt," German Schuld "guilt, debt;" also Old Norse Skuld, name of one of the Norns.
These Germanic words are reconstructed (Watkins, Pokorny) to be from a PIE root *skel-(2) "to be under an obligation." The basic sense of the Germanic word probably was "I owe," hence "I ought." Cognates outside Germanic include Lithuanian skelėti "to be guilty," skilti "to get into debt;" Old Prussian skallisnan "duty," skellants "guilty." But Boutkan gives the group no PIE etymology and writes that the alleged root, limited as it is to Germanic and Balto-Slavic, "is likely to represent an innovation on the basis of North European substrate material."
Shall survives as an auxiliary. The original senses are obsolete; the meaning shifted in Middle English from obligation to include futurity. It has no participles, no imperative, and no infinitive. Its past-tense form has become should (q.v.) and has acquired special senses of its own.
late 14c., "likely, reasonable, plausible, having more evidence for than against," from Old French probable "provable, demonstrable" (14c.), from Latin probabilis "worthy of approval, pleasing, agreeable, acceptable; provable, that may be assumed to be believed, credible," from probare "to try, to test" (see prove). As a legal term, probable cause "reasonable cause or grounds" is attested from 1670s.
Probable cause (used with reference to criminal prosecutions), such a state of facts and circumstances as would lead a man of ordinary caution and prudence, acting conscientiously, impartially, reasonably, and without prejudice, upon the facts within his knowledge, to believe that the person accused is guilty. [Century Dictionary]
mid-13c., aquiten, "repay, reciprocate, reward or retaliate for" (a good or bad deed); c. 1300 as "satisfy a debt; redeem (a pledge)," from Old French aquiter, acquiter "pay, pay up, settle a claim" (12c., Modern French acquitter), from a- "to" (see ad-) + quite "free, clear," from Medieval Latin quitus, quittus, from Latin quietus "free" (in Medieval Latin "free from war, debts, etc."), also "calm, resting" (from PIE root *kweie- "to rest, be quiet"). Also in part from Medieval Latin acquitare.
From mid-14c. as "relieve (someone) of an obligation, release from a pledge," hence the meanings "set (an accused person) free from charges, pronounce not guilty," and "discharge one's duty; behave or conduct oneself" (for better or worse), all of which date to the late 14c. The notion in the word is "to release or discharge," from an obligation or from accusation, guilt, censure, or suspicion. Related: Acquitted; acquitting.
The meaning "infliction of severe bodily pain as a means of punishment or persuasion" in English is from 1550s. The theory behind judicial torture was that a guilty person could be made to confess, but an innocent one could not, by this means. Macaulay writes that it was last inflicted in England in May 1640.
The group is related to Old English synn "sin" and Latin sontis "guilty" (truth is related to guilt via "being the one;" see sin (v.)), from PIE *hes-ont- "being, existence," thus "real, true" (from present participle of root *es- "to be"), also preserved in Latin sunt "they are" and German sind.
Archaic in English, it is the root of modern words for "true" in Swedish (sann) and Danish (sand). In common use until mid-17c., then obsolete until revived as an archaism early 19c. by Scott, etc. Used for Latin pro- in translating compounds into Old English, such as soðtacen "prodigy," soðfylgan "prosequi."
c. 1200, quiten, "to repay, discharge" (a debt, claim, etc.), from Old French quiter "to clear, establish one's innocence;" also transitive, "release, let go; absolve, relinquish, abandon" (12c., Modern French quitter), from quite "free, clear, entire, at liberty; discharged; unmarried," from Medieval Latin quitus, quittus, from Latin quietus "free" (in Medieval Latin "free from war, debts, etc."), also "calm, resting" (from PIE root *kweie- "to rest, be quiet").
Meaning "to reward, give reward, repay" is from mid-13c., that of "take revenge; to answer, retort" and "to acquit oneself" are late 14c. From c. 1300 as "to acquit (of a charge), declare not guilty."
Sense of "to leave, depart from, go away from" is attested by late 14c.; that of "stop, cease" (doing something) is from 1640s. Meaning "to give up, relinquish" is from mid-15c. Related: Quitted; quitting. Quitting time "time at which work ends for the day" is from 1835.
late 14c., mortuarie, "customary gift due to the minister of a parish on the death of a parishioner," from Anglo-French mortuarie (early 14c.), from Medieval Latin mortuarium, noun use of neuter of Late Latin adjective mortuarius "pertaining to the dead," from Latin mortuus, past participle of mori "to die" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death).
Selden says that the usage anciently was, bringing the mortuary along with the corpse when it came to be buried, and to offer it to the church as a satisfaction for the supposed negligence and omissions the defunct had been guilty of, in not paying his personal tithes; and from thence it was called a corse-present; a term which bespeaks it to have been once a voluntary donation. [Sir Thomas Edlyne Tomlins, "The Law Dictionary," London, 1835]
From mid-15c. as "a funeral service." Meaning "place where bodies of the dead are kept temporarily" is recorded by 1865, a euphemism for earlier deadhouse.
late 14c., "to quickly bow the head; to assent, beckon, or salute quickly by an inclination of the head," late 14c., nodden, a word of unknown origin, probably an Old English word, but not recorded, or perhaps from a Low German word related to Old High German hnoton "to shake," from Proto-Germanic *hnudan (OED considers this "doubtful"). Apparently unrelated to Latin nuere "to nod." Related: Nodded; nodding.
Meaning "droop the head forward with a short, involuntary motion," as when drowsy, is by 1560s. Figurative sense of "be guilty of a lapse, be momentarily inattentive" is by 1670s, echoing Horace's dormitat Homerus. Of flowers, etc., "to droop or bend downward," c. 1600. Meaning "to drift in and out of consciousness while on drugs" is attested by 1968 (as a noun in this sense by 1942).
A nodding acquaintance (by 1821) is one you know just well enough to recognize with a nod. Land of Nod "state of sleep" (1731) is a pun on the biblical place name east of Eden (Genesis iv.16).
"intense and painful self-condemnation and penitence due to consciousness of guilt; the pain of a guilty conscience," late 14c., from Old French remors (Modern French remords) and directly from Medieval Latin remorsum"a biting back or in return," noun use of neuter past participle of Latin remordere "to vex, torment disturb," literally "to bite back, bite again" (but seldom used in the literal sense), from re- "back, again" (see re-) + mordēre "to bite," which is perhaps from an extended form of PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm."
The sense evolution was via the Medieval Latin phrase remorsus conscientiæ (Chaucer's remors of conscience, also translated into Middle English as ayenbite of inwit). Middle English also had a verb, remord "to strike with remorse, touch with compassion, prick one's conscience" (late 14c.), from Latin remordere. Richard Brome's "Merry Beggars" (1641) delighted that they had
No bargains or accounts to make,
No land or lease to let or take:
Or if we had, should that remore us
When all the world's our own before us[?]