Meaning "offense of habitually starting legal suits" is from 1640s. The sense has been somewhat confused with that of Middle English baratri "combat, fighting" (c. 1400), from Old Norse baratta "fight, contest strife." This was an active word in Middle English, with forms such as baraten "to disturb the peace" (mid-15c.); baratour "inciter to riot, bully" (late 14c., mid-13c. as a surname).
Barataria Bay, Louisiana, U.S., is from Spanish baratear "to cheat, deceive," cognate of the French word; the bay so called in reference to the difficulty of its entry passages.
"rose bay," a poisonous evergreen Mediterranean shrub, late 14c., oleaster, from Medieval Latin oleander, a word of uncertain origin, probably altered (by influence of Latin olea "olive tree") from Late Latin lorandrum, from Latin rhododendron (see rhododendron), which was itself altered by influence of Latin laurea "laurel," on resemblance of leaves. This round-about etymology is supported by the French word for it, laurier rose.
U.S. state, river, and native tribe, all named for the bay, which was named for Baron (commonly "Lord") De la Warr (Thomas West, 1577-1618), first English colonial governor of Virginia. The family name is attested from 1201, from Delaware in Brasted, Kent, which is probably ultimately from de la werre "of the war" (a warrior), from Old French werre/guerre "war" (see war (n.)). Related: Delawarean.