Etymology
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drop (v.)

Middle English droppen, from Old English dropian "to fall in drops, fall in small portions or globules, as a liquid." The word is part of a related series of verbs in Proto-Germanic that also yielded Old Saxon driopan, Old Frisian driapa, Dutch druipen, Old High German triufan, German triefen, and in English drip, droop, and obsolete dreep and dripe. Related: Dropped; dropping.

In reference to a solid object, "to fall vertically" from late 14c. The transitive sense "allow to fall" is from mid-14c. To drop in "visit casually" is from c. 1600; drop-in (n.) "a casual visit" is attested by 1819. The notion in drop (someone) a line "write a letter" (1769) is of dropping a message into a letter-box. Exclamation drop dead to express emphatic dislike or scorn is from 1934; as an adjective meaning "stunning, excellent" it is recorded by 1970 (compare killing, etc.).

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by (prep., adv.)

Old English be- (unstressed) or bi (stressed) "near, in, by, during, about," from Proto-Germanic *bi "around, about," in compounds often merely intensive (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian bi "by, near," Middle Dutch bie, Dutch bij, German bei "by, at, near," Gothic bi "about"), from PIE *bhi, reduced form of root *ambhi- "around."

As an adverb by c. 1300, "near, close at hand."

OED (2nd ed. print) has 38 distinct definitions of it as a preposition. Originally an adverbial particle of place, which sense survives in place names (Whitby, Grimsby, etc., also compare rudesby). Elliptical use for "secondary course" was in Old English (opposed to main, as in byway, also compare by-blow "illegitimate child," 1590s, Middle English loteby "a concubine," from obsolete lote "to lurk, lie hidden"). This also is the sense of the second by in the phrase by the by (1610s).

By the way literally means "along the way" (c. 1200), hence "in passing by," used figuratively to introduce a tangential observation ("incidentally") by 1540s. To swear by something or someone is in Old English, perhaps originally "in the presence of." Phrase by and by (early 14c.) originally meant "one by one," with by apparently denoting succession; modern sense of "before long" is from 1520s.

By and large "in all its length and breadth" (1660s) originally was nautical, "sailing to the wind and off it," hence "in one direction then another;" from nautical expression large wind, one that crosses the ship's line in a favorable direction.

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drop (n.)

Middle English drope, from Old English dropa "a small, spherical mass of liquid," from Proto-Germanic *drupon (source also of Old Saxon dropo, Old Norse dropi, Dutch drop, Old High German tropfo, German Tropfen (n.)); see drop (v.).

Sense of "minute quantity of anything, least possible amount" is from c. 1200. Meaning "an act of dropping" is from 1630s; of immaterial things (prices, temperatures, etc.) from mid-19c. Meaning "lozenge, hard candy" is 1723, from resemblance in shape. Meaning "secret place where things can be left illicitly and picked up later" is from 1931. Theatrical meaning "painted curtain dropped between scenes to conceal the stage from the audience" is by 1779.

Drop in the bucket (late 14c.) is from Isaiah xl.15 [KJV]. At the drop of a hat "suddenly" is from 1854. To get the drop on "be prepared before one's antagonist" originally was Old West gunslinger slang (1869).

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drive-by (adj.)

as a modifier, "done from a moving vehicle," by 1989 (originally of shootings), from the verbal phrase; see drive (v.) + by (prep.).

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drop-kick (n.)

1849, from drop (n.) + kick (n.). As a verb by 1874. Related: Drop-kicked; drop-kicking.

Who would linger by the fire, nor from toil an hour snatch
When villages play football in a merry monster match;
E'en a mere ale-drinking Saxon feels some fervour in his soul
As he watches and bets glasses on a drop-kick at the goal.
[from "A Lay of English Field Sports," by "Colonel Chasse," in The Sporting Review, June 1849]
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go-by (n.)

1640s, "an evasion, a leaving behind by artifice," from verbal phrase; see go (v.) + by (adv.). From 1650s as "a passing without notice, intentional disregard." Compare bygone.

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by-product (n.)

also byproduct, "secondary or additional product;" 1849, from by + product.

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gum-drop (n.)

also gumdrop, type of confection, 1856, from gum (n.1) + drop (n.).

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eye-drop (n.)

also eyedrop, 1590s, "tear," from eye (n.) + drop (n.). From 1938 as "a drop for the eye." Related: Eye-dropper.

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by-name (n.)

late 14c., "secondary name;" 1570s, "nickname," from by + name (n.).

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