Old English to "in the direction of, for the purpose of, furthermore," from West Germanic *to (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian to, Dutch toe, Old High German zuo, German zu "to"), from PIE pronominal base *do- "to, toward, upward" (source also of Latin donec "as long as," Old Church Slavonic do "as far as, to," Greek suffix -de "to, toward," Old Irish do, Lithuanian da-), from demonstrative *de-. Not found in Scandinavian, where the equivalent of till (prep.) is used.
The nearly universal use of to with infinitives (to sleep, to dream, etc.) arose in Middle English out of the Old English dative use of to, and it helped drive out the Old English inflectional endings (though in this use to itself is a mere sign, without meaning).
Commonly used as a prefix in Middle English (to-hear "listen to," etc.), but few of these survive (to-do, together, and time references such as today, tonight, tomorrow — Chaucer also has to-yeere). To and fro "side to side" is attested from mid-14c. Phrase what's it to you "how does that concern you?" (1819) is a modern form of an old question:
Huæd is ðec ðæs?
[John xxi:22, in Lindisfarne Gospel, c.950]
"perform, execute, achieve, carry out, bring to pass by procedure of any kind," etc., Middle English do, first person singular of Old English don "make, act, perform, cause; to put, to place," from West Germanic *doanan (source also of Old Saxon duan, Old Frisian dwa, Dutch doen, Old High German tuon, German tun), from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put, place."
Use as an auxiliary began in Middle English. Sense of "to put, place, lay" is obsolete except in phrases such as do away with. Periphrastic form in negative sentences (They did not think) replaced the Old English negative particles (Hie ne wendon).
Meaning "visit as a tourist" is from 1817. In old slang it meant "to hoax, cheat, swindle" (1640s). Slang meaning "to do the sex act with or to" is from 1913.
Slang do in "bring disaster upon, kill" is by 1905. To have to do with "have concern or connection with" is from late 13c. To do without "dispense with" is from 1713. Expression do or die indicating determination to succeed despite dangers or obstacles is attested from 1620s.
from the title of Joseph Heller's 1961 novel, but the phrase became widespread after release of the movie based on the book in 1970. The catch (n.) is that a bomber pilot is insane if he flies combat missions without asking to be relieved from duty, and thus he is eligible to be relieved from duty. But asking to be relieved from duty indicates sanity and thus he must keep flying missions.
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.
"piece of timber sawn flat and thin, longer than it is wide, wider than it is thick, narrower than a plank;" Old English bord "a plank, flat surface," from Proto-Germanic *burdam (source also of Old Norse borð "plank," Dutch bord "board," Gothic fotu-baurd "foot-stool," German Brett "plank"), perhaps from a PIE verb meaning "to cut." See also board (n.2), with which this is so confused as practically to form one word (if indeed they were not the same word all along).
In late Old English or early Middle English the sense was extended to include "table;" hence the transferred meaning "food" (early 14c.), as "that which is served upon a table," especially "daily meals provided at a place of lodging" (late 14c.). Compare boarder, boarding, and Old Norse borð, which also had a secondary sense of "table" and an extended sense "maintenance at table." Hence also above board "honest, open" (1610s; compare modern under the table "dishonest").
A further extension was to "table where council is held" (1570s), from whence the word was transferred to "leadership council, persons having the management of some public or private concern" (1610s), as in board of directors (1712).
"Bow to the board," said Bumble. Oliver brushed away two or three tears that were lingering in his eyes; and seeing no board but the table, fortunately bowed to that.
The meaning "table upon which public notices are written" is from mid-14c. The meaning "table upon which a game is played" is from late 14c. The sense of "thick, stiff paper" is from 1530s. Boards "stage of a theater" is from 1768.
Old English þing "meeting, assembly, council, discussion," later "entity, being, matter" (subject of deliberation in an assembly), also "act, deed, event, material object, body, being, creature," from Proto-Germanic *thinga- "assembly" (source also of Old Frisian thing "assembly, council, suit, matter, thing," Middle Dutch dinc "court-day, suit, plea, concern, affair, thing," Dutch ding "thing," Old High German ding "public assembly for judgment and business, lawsuit," German Ding "affair, matter, thing," Old Norse þing "public assembly"). The Germanic word is perhaps literally "appointed time," from a PIE *tenk- (1), from root *ten- "stretch," perhaps on notion of "stretch of time for a meeting or assembly."
The sense "meeting, assembly" did not survive Old English. For sense evolution, compare French chose, Spanish cosa "thing," from Latin causa "judicial process, lawsuit, case;" Latin res "affair, thing," also "case at law, cause." Old sense is preserved in second element of hustings and in Icelandic Althing, the nation's general assembly.
Of persons, often pityingly, from late 13c. Used colloquially since c. 1600 to indicate things the speaker can't name at the moment, often with various meaningless suffixes (see thingamajig).
Things "personal possessions" is from c. 1300. The thing "what's stylish or fashionable" is recorded from 1762. Phrase do your thing "follow your particular predilection," though associated with hippie-speak of 1960s is attested from 1841.