mid-13c., "property" of any kind, including money, land, income; from Anglo-French catel "property" (Old North French catel, Old French chatel), from Medieval Latin capitale "property, stock," noun use of neuter of Latin adjective capitalis "principal, chief," literally "of the head," from caput (genitive capitis) "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head"). Compare sense development of fee, pecuniary.
in later Middle English especially "movable property, livestock" (early 14c.), including horses, sheep, asses, etc.; it began to be limited to "cows and bulls" from late 16c.
"a herd, especially of cattle," Old English draf "beasts driven in a body; road along which cattle are driven," originally "act of driving," from drifan "to drive" (see drive (v.)).
"to keep moving round and round without purpose in a mass," 1874 (originally of cattle, implied in milling), originally of cattle, from mill (n.1) on resemblance to the action of a mill wheel. Related: Milled.
c. 1500, "consisting of money;" 1620s, "relating to money," from Latin pecuniarius "pertaining to money," from pecunia "money, property, wealth," from pecu "cattle, flock," from PIE root *peku- "wealth, movable property, livestock" (source of Sanskrit pasu- "cattle," Gothic faihu "money, fortune," Old English feoh "cattle, money").
Livestock was the measure of wealth in the ancient world, and Rome was essentially a farmer's community. That pecunia was literally "wealth in cattle" was still apparent to Cicero. For a possible parallel sense development in Old English, see fee, and compare, evolving in the other direction, cattle. Compare also Welsh tlws "jewel," cognate with Irish tlus "cattle," connected via the notion of "valuable thing," and, perhaps emolument.
An earlier adjective in English was pecunier (early 15c.; mid-14c. in Anglo-French), from Old French; also pecunial (late 14c.).
early 13c., chatel "property, goods," from Old French chatel "chattels, goods, wealth, possessions, property; profit; cattle," from Late Latin capitale "property" (see cattle, which is the Old North French form of the same word). Application to slaves is from 1640s and later became a rhetorical figure in the writings of abolitionists.