"remission, forgiveness," c. 1200, from Old French absolucion, earlier assolucion, from Latin absolutionem (nominative absolutio) "completion, acquittal," noun of action from past-participle stem of absolvere "set free, loosen, acquit," from ab "off, away from" (see ab-) + solvere "to loosen, dissolve; untie, release; dismiss," from PIE *se-lu-, from reflexive pronoun *s(w)e- (see idiom) + root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart." Originally of sins; in general use from c. 1400.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to loosen, divide, cut apart."
It forms all or part of: absolute; absolution; absolve; analysis; analytic; catalysis; catalyst; catalytic; dialysis; dissolve; electrolysis; electrolyte; forlorn; Hippolytus; hydrolysis; -less; loess; loose; lorn; lose; loss; Lysander; lysergic; lysis; -lysis; lyso-; lysol; lytic; -lytic; palsy; paralysis; pyrolusite; resolute; resolution; resolve; soluble; solute; solution; solve; solvent.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit lunati "cuts, cuts off," lavitram "sickle;" Greek lyein "to loosen, untie, slacken," lysus "a loosening;" Latin luere "to loose, release, atone for, expiate;" Old Norse lauss "loose, free, unencumbered; vacant; dissolute;" Old English losian "be lost, perish."
Old English scrift "confession to priest, followed by penance and absolution," verbal noun from scrifan "to impose penance," from an early Germanic borrowing of Latin scribere "to write" (from PIE root *skribh- "to cut").
The Germanic borrowing produced nouns for "penance, confession" in Old English and Scandinavian (such as Old Norse skrjpt "penance, confession"), but elsewhere in Germanic it means "writing, scripture, alphabet letter;" see shrive.
The sense drifted early toward simply "absolution received after confession." Short shrift (1590s) originally was the brief time for a condemned criminal to confess before execution in a sentence of punishment without delay; the figurative extension to "little or no consideration" is attested by 1814.
late 15c., "lasciviousness," from French lubricité or directly from Medieval Latin lubricitatem (nominative lubricitas) "slipperiness," from Latin lubricus "slippery; easily moved, sliding, gliding;" figuratively "uncertain, hazardous, dangerous; seductive" (from suffixed form of PIE root *sleubh- "to slip, slide"). Sense of "oiliness, smoothness" in English is from 1540s; figurative sense of "shiftiness" is from 1610s.
The priests had excellent cause to forbid us lechery: this injunction, by reserving to them acquaintance with and absolution for these private sins, gave them an incredible ascendancy over women, and opened up to them a career of lubricity whose scope knew no limits. [Marquis de Sade, "Philosophy in the Bedroom"]
mid-14c., in the Church sense, "a freeing from temporal punishment for sin, remission from punishment for sin that remains due after absolution," from Old French indulgence or directly from Latin indulgentia "complaisance, a yielding; fondness, tenderness, affection; remission," from indulgentem (nominative indulgens) "indulgent, kind, tender, fond," present participle of indulgere "be kind; yield, concede, be complaisant; give oneself up to, be addicted," a word of uncertain origin. It is evidently a compound, and the second element appears to be from PIE root *dlegh- "to engage oneself, be or become fixed." The first element could be in- "in" for a sense of "let someone be engaged" in something, or in- "not" for a total sense of "not be hard toward" someone.
Sense of "leniency, forbearance of restraint or control of another, gratification of desire or humor" is attested from late 14c. That of "yielding to one's inclinations" (technically self-indulgence) in English is from 1630s. In British history, Indulgence also refers to grants of certain liberties to Nonconformists under Charles II and James II, as special favors rather than legal rights. The sale of indulgences in the original Church sense was done at times merely to raise money and was widely considered corrupt; the one in 1517 helped to spark the Protestant revolt in Germany.