"loaded, weighted down," 1590s, adjective from the original past participle of lade.
Old English carian, cearian "be anxious or solicitous; grieve; feel concern or interest," from Proto-Germanic *karo- "lament," hence "grief, care" (source also of Old Saxon karon "to lament, to care, to sorrow, complain," Old High German charon "complain, lament," Gothic karon "be anxious"), said to be from PIE root *gar- "cry out, call, scream" (source also of Irish gairm "shout, cry, call;" see garrulous).
If so, the prehistoric sense development is from "cry" to "lamentation" to "grief." A different sense evolution is represented in related Dutch karig "scanty, frugal," German karg "stingy, scanty." It is not considered to be related to Latin cura. Positive senses, such as "have an inclination" (1550s); "have fondness for" (1520s) seem to have developed later as mirrors to the earlier negative ones.
To not care as a negative dismissal is attested from mid-13c. Phrase couldn't care less is from 1946; could care less in the same sense (with an understood negative) is from 1955. Care also has figured since 1580s in many "similies of indifference" in the form don't care a _____, with the blank filled by fig, pin, button, cent, straw, rush, point, farthing, snap, etc., etc. Related: Cared; caring.
Old English caru, cearu "sorrow, anxiety, grief," also "burdens of mind; serious mental attention," in late Old English also "concern, anxiety caused by apprehension of evil or the weight of many burdens," from Proto-Germanic *karō "lament; grief, care" (source also of Old Saxon kara "sorrow;" Old High German chara "wail, lament;" Gothic kara "sorrow, trouble, care;" German Karfreitag "Good Friday;" see care (v.)).
The meaning "charge, oversight, attention or heed with a view to safety or protection" is attested from c. 1400; this is the sense in care of in addressing (1840). The meaning "object or matter of concern" is from 1580s. To take care of "take in hand, do" is from 1580s; take care "be careful" also is from 1580s.
The primary sense is that of inward grief, and the word is not connected, either in sense or form, with L. cura, care, of which the primary sense is pains or trouble bestowed upon something. [Century Dictionary]
1945, originally CARE package, supplies sent out by "Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe," established 1945 by U.S. private charities to coordinate delivery of aid packages to displaced persons in Europe after World War II and obviously named for the sake of the acronym. The name was repackaged late 1940s to "Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere," to reflect its expanded mission.
also daycare, day-care, "care and supervision of young children during the day," especially on behalf of working parents, by 1943, American English, from day + care (n.). Early references are to care for children of women working national defense industry jobs. For an earlier word, see baby-farmer.
a word listed in 2nd print edition OED, whose editors found it, once, in the William Phillip's loose and erratic 1598 translation of John Huyghen van Linschoten's account of his voyage to the East Indies, and marked it "? error for EAREWORM." But care-worm could be a useful word.
They can hardly keepe any Paper or Bookes from wormes, which are like care wormes, but they doe often spoile and consume many Papers and euidences of great importance. [Phillip]