Old English bryce "a fracture, act of breaking," from Proto-Germanic *brukiz (source also of Old Frisian breke "a burst, crack, demolition (of a house)," Old Saxon bruki, Old High German bruh, Middle Dutch broke), a noun from *brekanan (source of Old English brecan "to shatter, burst; injure, violate, destroy, curtail;" see break (v.)). The English word was influenced by Old French cognate breche "breach, opening, gap," which is from Frankish or another Germanic source. Ultimately from PIE root *bhreg- "to break."
Figurative sense of "infraction, violation, a breaking of rules, etc." was in Old English. Meaning "opening made by breaking" is from late 14c. Meaning "rupture of friendly relations" is from 1570s. Breach of contract is from at least 1660s; breach of peace "violation of public order" is from 1670s; breach of promise (usually promise of marriage) is from 1580s.
early 15c., indenten, endenten "to make notches; to give (something) a toothed or jagged appearance," also "to make a legal indenture, make a written formal agreement or contract," from Old French endenter "to notch or dent, give a serrated edge to" (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin indentare "to furnish with teeth," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (from PIE root *en "in") + verb from Latin dens (genitive dentis) "tooth" (from PIE root *dent- "tooth").
An indented document was usually, if not always, written in two or more identical versions. Orig. these were written on a single sheet of parchment and then cut apart along a zigzag, or 'indented' line. Each party to the agreement retained one copy, which he could readily authenticate by matching its serrate edge with that of another copy. [Middle English Compendium]
The printing sense "insert white space to force text inward" is first attested 1670s. Related: Indented (late 14c.); indenting.
Middle English shrinken, from Old English scrincan "to draw in the limbs, contract spontaneously, shrivel up; wither (through death, age, disease, etc.), pine away" (class III strong verb; past tense scranc, past participle scruncen), from Proto-Germanic *skrink- (source also of Middle Dutch schrinken, Swedish skrynka "to wrinkle"), probably from PIE root *sker- (2) "to turn, bend."
Originally it had a causal form, shrench (compare drink/drench). The sense of "become reduced in size" is recorded from late 13c. The meaning "draw back, recoil" (early 14c.) often was in reference to the behavior of snails; the meaning "flinch, wince, draw back from fear or shame" is by mid-14c. The transitive sense of "cause to shrink, make to appear smaller" is from late 14c.
Shrink-wrap "clingy thin plastic film" used in food packaging is attested from 1961 (shrinking-wrap is by 1959). Shrinking violet "shy person" is attested by 1882.
c. 1200, "separate parts of anything written" (such as the statements in the Apostles' Creed, the clauses of a statute or contract), from Old French article (13c.), from Latin articulus "a part, a member," also "a knuckle; the article in grammar," diminutive of artus "a joint" (from PIE *ar(ə)-tu-, suffixed form of root *ar- "to fit together").
Meaning "literary composition in a journal, etc." (independent and on a specific topic, but part of a larger work) is recorded by 1712. The older sense is preserved in Articles of War "military regulations" (1716), Articles of Confederation (U.S. history), etc. The extended meaning "piece of property, material thing, commodity" (clothing, etc.) is attested by 1796, originally in rogue's cant.
The grammatical sense of "word used attributively, to limit the application of a noun to one individual or set of individuals" is from 1530s, from this sense in Latin articulus, translating Greek arthron "a joint," the part of speech (with different meanings in ancient Greek and modern English) so called on the notion of the "pivots" or "joints" on which the propositions in a sentence are in various ways tied together.
late 14c., "contract between two or more persons, states, etc., for mutual support or joint action," from Anglo-French confederacie (Old French confederacie), from stem of Latin confoederare "to unite by a league," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + foederare, from foedus "a league" (from suffixed form of PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade").
Also late 14c. as "an aggregation of persons, states, etc., united by a league, a confederation. At first in reference to leagues of classical Greek states (Aetolian, Delian, Achaean, etc.), later of the Netherlands. In 17c.-18c. often in a bad sense, especially "a conspiracy against a superior."
The word was used of the United States of America under (and in) the Articles of Confederation (1777-1788). In reference to the national organization of the seceding Southern states (1861-1865, also Southern Confederacy) from 1861, in the constitution of the Confederate States of America, formed by constitutional convention at Montgomery, Alabama, March 11, 1861.
Confederacy now usually implies a looser or more temporary association than confederation, which is applied to a union of states organized on an intentionally permanent basis. [OED]
c. 1300, mariage, "action of entering into wedlock;" also "state or condition of being husband and wife, matrimony, wedlock;" also "a union of a man and woman for life by marriage, a particular matrimonial union;" from Old French mariage "marriage; dowry" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *maritaticum (11c.), from Latin maritatus, past participle of maritare "to wed, marry, give in marriage" (see marry (v.)). The Vulgar Latin word also is the source of Italian maritaggio, Spanish maridaje, and compare mariachi.
Meanings "the marriage vow, formal declaration or contract by which two join in wedlock;" also "a wedding, the celebration of a marriage; the marriage ceremony" are from late 14c. Figurative use (non-theological) "intimate union, a joining as if by marriage" is from late 14c.
[W]hen two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition until death do them part. [G.B. Shaw, preface to "Getting Married," 1908]
Marriage counseling is recorded by that name by 1939. Marriage bed, figurative of marital intercourse generally, is attested from 1580s (bed of marriage is from early 15c.).
mid-15c. "of or pertaining to the law," from Old French légal "legal" (14c.) or directly from Latin legalis "pertaining to the law," from lex (genitive legis) "an enactment; a precept, regulation, principle, rule; formal proposition for a law, motion, bill; a contract, arrangement, contrivance." This probably is related to legere "to gather," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather," with derivatives meaning "to speak (to 'pick out words')." Perhaps the noun is from the verb on the notion of "a collection of rules," but de Vaan seems to imply that the evolution is the reverse:
The verb legare and its compounds all have a meaning which involves a 'task, assignment,' and can therefore be interpreted as derivatives of lex 'law.' The [Proto-Italic] root noun *leg- 'law' can be interpreted as a 'collection' of rules. Whether the root noun existed already in PIE is uncertain for lack of precise cognates.
Sense of "permitted by law" is from 1640s. Related: Legally. Not etymologically related to law (n.), q.v. The usual Old French form was leial, loial (see leal, loyal). Legal tender "money which the creditor is bound by law to accept" is from 1740 (see tender (n.2)). A legal holiday (1867) is one established by statute or proclamation and during which government business is usually suspended.
c. 1300, "absolute ruler," especially one without legal right; "cruel, oppressive ruler," from Old French tiran, tyrant (12c.), from Latin tyrannus "lord, master, monarch, despot," especially "arbitrary ruler, cruel governor, autocrat" (source also of Spanish tirano, Italian tiranno), from Greek tyrannos "lord, master, sovereign, absolute ruler unlimited by law or constitution," a loan-word from a language of Asia Minor (probably Lydian); Klein compares Etruscan Turan "mistress, lady" (surname of Venus).
In the exact sense, a tyrant is an individual who arrogates to himself the royal authority without having a right to it. This is how the Greeks understood the word 'tyrant': they applied it indifferently to good and bad princes whose authority was not legitimate. [Rousseau, "The Social Contract"]
Originally in Greek the word was not applied to old hereditary sovereignties (basileiai) and despotic kings, but it was used of usurpers, even when popular, moderate, and just (such as Cypselus of Corinth), however it soon became a word of reproach in the usual modern sense. The unetymological spelling with -t arose in Old French by analogy with present-participle endings in -ant. Fem. form tyranness is recorded from 1590 (Spenser); Medieval Latin had tyrannissa (late 14c.).
Middle English sellen, from Old English sellan "to give (something to someone), furnish, supply, lend; surrender, give up; deliver to; promise," from Proto-Germanic *saljanan "offer up, deliver" (source also of Old Norse selja "to hand over, deliver, sell;" Old Frisian sella, Old High German sellen "to give, hand over, sell;" Gothic saljan "to offer a sacrifice"), ultimately from PIE root *sel- (3) "to take, grasp."
Meaning "to give up for money, accept a price or reward for" had emerged by late Old English, but in Chaucer selle still can mean "to give." Students of Old English learn early that the word they encounter that looks like sell usually means "give." An Old English word for "to sell" was bebycgan, from bycgan "to buy."
The meaning "betray for gain" is from c. 1200. Slang meaning "to swindle" is from 1590s. To sell off "dispose of by sale, sell all of" is by 1700. To sell one's soul "make a contract with the devil," often figurative, is from c. 1570. Sell-by in reference to dates stamped on perishable packaged foods is from 1972. To sell like hot cakes is from 1839. To sell (someone) down the river figuratively is by 1927, probably from or with recollection of slavery days, on notion of sale from the Upper South to the cotton plantations of the Deep South (attested in this literal sense since 1851).