late 14c., sēden, "to flower, flourish; produce seed;" mid-15c., "to sow (the ground) with seed," from seed (n.).
The meaning "remove the seeds from" is by 1904. Sporting (originally tennis) sense is by 1898, from the notion of "spreading" certain players' names so as to ensure they will not meet early in a tournament. The noun in this sense is attested by 1924.
There is another question of tennis custom, if not tennis law, that has been agitated a good deal of late, and which still remains unsatisfactory, and this is the methods used in drawing the competitors in tournaments. The National Lawn Tennis Association prescribes no particular style for drawing. but the Bagnall-Wilde system is that used almost universally in open events. Several years ago, it was decided to "seed" the best players through the championship draw, and this was done for two or three years under protest from Dr. Dwight. ["Tennis Rules That Need Amendment," American Lawn Tennis, Jan. 13, 1898]
Related: Seeded; seeding. Late Old English had sædian, sedian.
"kind of food made from flour or the meal of some grain, kneaded into a dough, fermented, and baked," Old English bread "bit, crumb, morsel; bread," cognate with Old Norse brauð, Danish brød, Old Frisian brad, Middle Dutch brot, Dutch brood, German Brot. According to one theory [Watkins, etc.] from Proto-Germanic *brautham, from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn," in reference to the leavening.
But OED argues at some length for the basic sense being not "cooked food" but "piece of food," and the Old English word deriving from a Proto-Germanic *braudsmon- "fragments, bits" (cognate with Old High German brosma "crumb," Old English breotan "to break in pieces") and being related to the root of break (v.). It cites Slovenian kruh "bread," literally "a piece."
Either way, by c. 1200 it had replaced the usual Old English word for "bread," which was hlaf (see loaf (n.)).
Extended sense of "food, sustenance in general" (late 12c.) is perhaps via the Lord's Prayer. Slang meaning "money" dates from 1940s, but compare breadwinner, and bread as "one's livelihood" dates to 1719. Bread and circuses (1914) is from Latin, in reference to food and entertainment provided by the government to keep the populace content. "Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses" [Juvenal, Sat. x.80].
Middle English sēd, from Old English sēd (Anglian), sæd (West Saxon), "that which may be sown; an individual grain of seed," from Proto-Germanic *sediz "seed" (source also of Old Norse sað, Old Saxon sad, Old Frisian sed, Middle Dutch saet, Old High German sat, German Saat). This is reconstructed to be from PIE *se-ti- "sowing," from root *sē- "to sow."
Figurative sense of "offspring, progeny, posterity," now rare or archaic except in biblical use, was in Old English; the figurative meaning "that from which anything springs, latent beginning" is by late Old English. From late 14c. as "act or time of sowing." The meaning "semen, male fecundating fluid," also now archaic or biblical, is from c. 1300. For the sporting sense (by 1924), see seed (v.).