1580s, "of noble birth," from French généreux (14c.), from Latin generosus "of noble birth," figuratively "magnanimous, generous," from genus (genitive generis) "race, stock" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups). Secondary senses of "unselfish" (1690s) and "plentiful" (1610s) in English were present in French and in Latin. Related: Generously; generousness.
poetic word for "woman, lady" in old ballads; later "young lady, maiden;" c. 1200, perhaps from Old English byrde "wealthy, well-born, of good birth" (compare Old English gebyrd "birth, descent, race; offspring; nature; fate;" see birth (n.)) Or a metathesis of bryd "bride" (see bride). The masculine equivalent was berne.