Etymology
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end (v.)
Old English endian "to end, finish, abolish, destroy; come to an end, die," from the source of end (n.). Related: Ended; ending.
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end (n.)

Old English ende "end, conclusion, boundary, district, species, class," from Proto-Germanic *andiaz (source also of Old Frisian enda, Old Dutch ende, Dutch einde, Old Norse endir "end;" Old High German enti "top, forehead, end," German Ende, Gothic andeis "end"), originally "the opposite side," from PIE *antjo "end, boundary," from root *ant- "front, forehead," with derivatives meaning "in front of, before."

Worldly wealth he cared not for, desiring onely to make both ends meet. [Thomas Fuller, "The History of the Worthies of England," 1662]

Original sense of "outermost part" is obsolete except in phrase ends of the earth. Sense of "destruction, death" was in Old English. Meaning "division or quarter of a town" was in Old English. The end "the last straw, the limit" (in a disparaging sense) is from 1929. The end-man in minstrel troupes was one of the two at the ends of the semicircle of performers, who told funny stories and cracked jokes with the middle-man. U.S. football end zone is from 1909 (end for "side of the field occupied by one team" is from 1851). The noun phrase end-run is attested from 1893 in U.S. football; extended to military tactics by 1940. End time in reference to the end of the world is from 1917. To end it all "commit suicide" is attested by 1911. Be-all and end-all is from Shakespeare ("Macbeth" I.vii.5).

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rear-end (n.)

by 1868, "the back part of anything;" by 1937, "the buttocks;" from rear (adj.) + end (n.). As a verb, "to collide with (another vehicle) from behind," from 1976. Related: Rear-ended; rear-ending.

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butt-end (n.)
"thick end," 1580s," from butt (n.1) + end (n.). Meaning "the mere end," without regard to thickness, is from 1590s.
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bag-end (n.)
"bottom of a bag," c. 1400, from bag (n.) + end (n.).
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end-paper (n.)
in book-binding, "blank leaves before and after the text of a book," 1818, from end (n.) + paper (n.).
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book-end (n.)
"prop for keeping books in position," 1907, from book (n.) + end (n.).
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bitter end (n.)

In lexicons of sea language going back to 1759, the bitter end is the part of a cable which is round about the bitts (the two great timbers used to belay cables) when the ship is at anchor (see bitt).

Bitter end of the Cable, the End which is wound about the Bitts. ["The News-Readers Pocket-Book: Or, a Military Dictionary," London, 1759]

So, when a cable is played out to the bitter end, there is no more left to play. The term began to be used c. 1835 in non-nautical use and with probable influence of or merger with bitter (adj.).

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tail-end (n.)
late 14c., from tail (n.1) + end (n.).
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dead end (n.)

"closed end of a passage," 1851 in reference to drainpipes, 1874 in reference to railway lines; by 1886 of streets; from dead (adj.) + end (n.). Figurative use, "course of action that leads nowhere," is by 1914. As an adjective in the figurative sense by 1917; as a verb by 1921. Related: Dead-ended; dead-ending; deadender (by 1996).

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