mid-14c., from Old English gingifer, gingiber, from Late Latin gingiber, from Latin zingiberi, from Greek zingiberis, from Prakrit (Middle Indic) singabera, from Sanskrit srngaveram, from srngam "horn" + vera- "body," so called from the shape of its root. But this may be Sanskrit folk etymology, and the word may be from an ancient Dravidian word that also produced the Malayalam name for the spice, inchi-ver, from inchi "root."
The word apparently was readopted in Middle English from Old French gingibre (12c., Modern French gingembre). In reference to coloring, by 1785 of fighting cocks, 1885 of persons (gingery with reference to hair is from 1852). Meaning "spirit, spunk, temper" is from 1843, American English (see gin (v.1)). Ginger-ale is recorded by 1822, the term adopted by manufacturers to distinguish their product from ginger beer (1809), which was sometimes fermented. Ginger-snap as a type of hard cookie flavored with ginger is from 1855, American English.
in slang phrase gin up "enliven, make more exciting," 1887 (ginning is from 1825), perhaps a special use of the verb associated with gin (n.2) "engine," but perhaps rather or also from ginger up in the same sense (1849), which is from ginger in sense of "spice, pizzazz;" specifically in reference to the treatment described in the 1796 edition of Grose's slang dictionary under the entry for feague:
... to put ginger up a horse's fundament, and formerly, as it is said, a live eel, to make him lively and carry his tail well; it is said, a forfeit is incurred by any horse-dealer's servant, who shall shew a horse without first feaguing him. Feague is used, figuratively, for encouraging or spiriting one up.
thin slices of raw fish served with ginger, soy sauce, etc., 1880, from Japanese, from sashi "to pierce" + mi "flesh."
coloring matter of turmeric, 1838 (by 1805 in German), from Curcuma, genus name for plants of the ginger family, from which the chemical was drawn, Medieval Latin, from Arabic kurkum "saffron, turmeric." Compare crocus.
"a hit with a smart, explosive sound," c. 1400, of imitative origin. Meaning "effervescent carbonated beverage" is from 1812.
A new manufactory of a nectar, between soda-water and ginger-beer, and called pop, because 'pop goes the cork' when it is drawn. [Southey, letter, 1812]
Sense of "ice cream on a stick" is from 1923 (see popsicle). Meaning "the (brief) time of a 'pop'" is from 1530s. Pop goes the weasel, a country dance, was popular 1850s in school yards, with organ grinders, at court balls, etc.
early 15c., "to inspect and remove the dirt and dross from (spices)," from Anglo-French garbeler "to sift" (late 14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin, Catalan, and Italian garbellare, from Arabic gharbal "to sift," related to kirbal "sieve," which perhaps is from Late Latin cribellum, diminutive of Latin cribrum "sieve" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve"). Apparently the word was widespread among Mediterranean traders (compare Italian garbellare, Spanish garbillare "to sift grain").
In later-medieval Europe, pepper and ginger and some other spices were always imports from the Arabic-speaking Eastern Mediterranean, and the same goes for many botanical drugs, and a few expensive colorants. The spices, drugs and colorants had variable amounts of natural chaff residuals and occasionally had unnatural added chaff. ["English Words of Arabic Ancestry"]
From late 15c. in a general sense of "sort out the finer parts" of anything, "removal of what is objectionable," then "distort for some devious purpose or to give false impression;" especially "mix up, confuse or distort language" (1680s). Related: Garbled; garbling. In Middle English garbeler (Anglo-French garbelour) meant "official who garbles spices and sometimes also other dry goods" (early 15c.); it is attested from 1690s as "one who mixes up or mutilates words or language."
apparently an early Middle English merger of three related Old English nouns, flota "boat, fleet," flote "troop, flock," flot "body of water, sea;" all from the source of float (v.). The early senses were the now-mostly-obsolete ones of the Old English words: "state of floating" (early 12c.), "swimming" (mid-13c.); "a fleet of ships; a company or troop" (c. 1300); "a stream, river" (early 14c.). From c. 1300 as an attachment for buoyancy on a fishing line or net; early 14c. as "raft." Meaning "platform on wheels used for displays in parades, etc." is from 1888, probably from earlier sense of "flat-bottomed boat" (1550s). As a type of fountain drink, by 1915.
Float.—An ade upon the top of which is floated a layer of grape juice, ginger ale, or in some cases a disher of fruit sherbet or ice cream. In the latter case it would be known as a "sherbet float" or an "ice-cream float." ["The Dispenser's Formulary: Or, Soda Water Guide," New York, 1915]
Few soda water dispensers know what is meant by a "Float Ice Cream Soda." This is not strange since the term is a coined one. By a "float ice cream soda" is meant a soda with the ice cream floating on top, thus making a most inviting appearance and impressing the customer that you are liberal with your ice cream, when you are not really giving any more than the fellow that mixes his ice cream "out of sight." [The Spatula, Boston, July, 1908]