late 13c., "coarse cloth;" mid-14c., "tablecloth, bedspread;" from Old French carpite "heavy decorated cloth, a carpet" (Modern French carpette), from Medieval Latin or Old Italian carpita "thick woolen cloth," probably from Latin carpere "to card, pluck" and so called because it was made from unraveled, shredded, "plucked" fabric; from PIE root *kerp- "to gather, pluck, harvest." From 15c. in reference to floor coverings, which since 18c. has been the main sense. The smaller sort is a rug.
Formerly the carpet (usually in a single piece, like the Persian carpet) was also used (as it still is in the East) for covering beds, couches, tables, etc., and in hangings. [Century Dictionary]
From 16c.-19c., by association with luxury, ladies' boudoirs, and drawing rooms, it was used as an adjective, often with a tinge of contempt, in reference to men (as in carpet-knight, 1570s, one who has seen no military service in the field; carpet-monger, 1590s, a lover of ease and pleasure, i.e. one more at home on a carpet).
On the carpet "summoned for reprimand" is 1900, U.S. colloquial (but compare carpet (v.) "call (someone) to be reprimanded," 1823, British servants' slang). This may have merged with older on the carpet "up for consideration" (1726) literally "on the tablecloth," with the word's older sense, hence "a subject for investigation." To sweep or push something under the carpet in the figurative sense is first recorded 1953.
"a sharper, a cheat," 1590s, regarded as from shark (n.1), but probably originally a different word, and sometimes looked on as the source of shark (n.1), which see, and compare also the verb.
c. 1600, "to live by one's wits like a needy adventurer," a word of uncertain origin (see shark (n.)); according to OED, at least partly a variant of shirk. The transitive meaning "get or obtain by sharking" is from 1610s. The verb meaning "to fish for or catch sharks" is attested by 1860 (implied in sharking (n.)). Related: Sharked.
"large, voracious fish," by 1560s, perhaps mid-15c., if an isolated instance in a diary in Middle English Compendium is the same word, of uncertain origin.
The meaning "dishonest person who preys on others," though attested from 1599 (sharker "artful swindler" in this sense is from 1594), may be the original sense, later transferred to the large, voracious marine fish. If so, it is possibly from German Schorck, a variant of Schurke "scoundrel, villain," agent noun of Middle High German schürgen (German schüren) "to poke, stir."
On an old theory, the English word is from a Mayan word, xoc, which might have meant "shark." Northern Europeans seem not to have been familiar with the larger sort of sharks before voyages to the tropics began. A slightly earlier name for it in English was tiburon, from Spanish tiburón (1520s), which probably is from a native word from South America, such as Tupi uperu "shark" (source also of Portuguese tubarão, Catalan tauró).
Middle English had hound-fish (early 14c.), which probably was used of dogfish and other small sharks. The general Germanic word seems to be represented by Old Norse har (Norwegian hai, Danis haj, Dutch haai, German Hai, also borrowed in Finnish, Latvian), which is of unknown origin. French requin is literally "grimacer," from Norman requin, from Old French reschignier "to bare the teeth, grimace."
An ancient Greek word for a shark was karkharias, from karkharos "sharp, jagged, biting," but the old theory that traces the eEnglish word to this has been dropped. Other Greek words for large selachians were aetos, bous, lamia, narkē; skylion was "dogfish." Latin used squalus, from the root of English whale (n.); Lithuanian ryklys is literally "swallower."
The English word was applied (or re-applied) to voracious or predatory persons, on the image of the fish, from 1707 (originally of pick-pockets); loan shark is attested from 1905.
There is the ordinary Brown Shark, or sea attorney, so called by sailors; a grasping, rapacious varlet, that in spite of the hard knocks received from it, often snapped viciously at our steering oar. [Herman Melville, "Mardi"]