"to ask alms," especially to do so habitually as one's way of life, c. 1200, a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps from the rare Old English bedecian "to beg," from Proto-Germanic *beth-. Or from Anglo-French begger, a back-formation from Old French noun begart (see beggar (n.)) and ultimately from Beguine, which OED considers "perhaps the most likely derivation." The Old English word for "beg" was wædlian, from wædl "poverty." Related: Begged; begging.
The meaning "ask for" (a favor, etc.) is by 1520s. As a courteous mode of asking (beg pardon, etc.), it is attested by c. 1600. Of dogs, by 1762. To beg the question (1580s) translates Latin petitio principii, and means "to assume something that hasn't been proven as a basis of one's argument," thus "asking" one's opponent to give something unearned, though more of the nature of taking it for granted without warrant. To beg off (something) "obtain release from by entreaty" is from 1741.
"act or habit of asking for alms, mendicancy, a beggar's way of life," late 14c., verbal noun from beg (v.). To go begging "find no one to fill or take" is from 1590s. Related: Beggingly.
late 15c., from French béguine (13c.), Medieval Latin beguina, "a member of a women's spiritual order professing poverty and self-denial, founded c. 1180 in Liege in the Low Countries." They are said to take their name from the surname of Lambert le Bègue "Lambert the Stammerer," a Liege priest who was instrumental in their founding, and it's likely the word was pejorative at first. French bègue is of unknown origin. Related: Beguinage.
The women's order, though sometimes persecuted, generally preserved its good reputation, but it quickly drew imposters who did not; nonetheless it eventually was condemned as heretical. A male order, called Beghards founded communities by the 1220s in imitation of them, but they soon degenerated (compare Old French beguin "(male) Beguin," also "hypocrite") and wandered begging in the guise of religion; they likely were the source of the words beg and beggar, though there is disagreement over whether Beghard produced Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant" or was produced by it. The male order was condemned by the Church early 14c. and vanished by mid-16c.
Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine" (1935) refers to a kind of popular dance of West Indian origin, from French colloquial béguin "an infatuation, boyfriend, girlfriend," earlier "child's bonnet," and before that "nun's headdress" (14c.), from Middle Dutch beggaert, ultimately the same word as the above. Compare English biggin "child's cap" (1520s), from the French word.
"to beg," 1888, from panhandle (n.) in the begging sense. Related: Panhandled; panhandling.
"governor of a Turkish district," 1590s, from Turkish bey, a title of honor in princely families, the Osmanli equivalent of Turkish beg, which is cognate with Persian baig "a lord."
"practicing beggary, living by alms or doles" (in reference to orders of friars), late 15c., mendicaunt, from Latin mendicantem (nominative mendicans) present participle of mendicare "to beg, ask alms," from mendicus "beggar," originally "cripple" (connection via cripples who must beg), from menda "fault, physical defect," from PIE root *mend- "physical defect, fault" (see amend (v.)).
Meaning "reduced to beggary, begging" is from 1610s. The older word in Middle English in relation to religious orders was mendinant (mid-14c.), from Old French mendinant, present participle of mendiner "to beg," from the same Latin source. The mendicant orders (freurs mendicantes or begging friars, principally the Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Augustinians) were those religious orders which originally depended for support on the alms they received.
early 15c., suppliaunt, "a petitioner at law," from Old French suppliant, variant of soupleiant, noun use of present participle of supplier "to plead humbly, entreat, beg, pray," (Old French souploier, 12c.), from Latin supplicare "beg, beseech" (see supplication). Originally in English especially at law; sense of "humble petitioner" is from mid-16c. As an adjective, "supplicating, entreating" from 1580s. Related: Suppliance; suppliantly.
"a beggar, one who lives by asking alms," late 14c., from Latin mendicantem (nominative mendicans), noun use of present participle of mendicare "to beg, ask alms" (see mendicant (adj.)).
"to wander about aimlessly," 1746, earlier "to mumble, grumble" (1620s), both senses perhaps (with a notion of "to speak with a beggar's whine or grumble") from frequentative of maund "to beg" (1560s), which is possibly from French mendier "to beg," from Latin mendicare "to beg, ask alms" (see mendicant).
"Though the etymology of maunder is uncertain, it is clear that it is not a corruption of meander" [Fowler], but the two words seem to have influenced each other. Meaning "to wander in talking like one drunken or foolish" is by 1831. Fowler writes that maunder is "best confined to speech, & suggests futility rather than digression ... & failure to reach an end rather than loitering on the way to it." Related: Maundered; maundering.
early 15c., "beg for, beseech," back-formation from supplication or else from Latin supplicatus, past participle of supplicare "plead humbly, beseech, kneel down." Related: Supplicated; supplicating.