Etymology
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reap (v.)

"to cut grain with a hook or sickle, cut and gather a harvest," Middle English repen, from Old English reopan, a Mercian and Northumbrian (Anglian) form of repan, geripan "to reap," related to Old English ripe "ripe" (see ripe). The transferred and figurative use, "to gather in by effort of any kind; gather the fruit of labor or works" is as old as the word itself in English due to Biblical language. Related: Reaped; reaping. Reaping-machine is attested by 1762.

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reaper (n.)

Middle English repere (early 14c. in surnames), "a harvester, one who cuts grain with a sickle or other instrument," replacing Old English ripere, agent noun from reap (v.). Sense of "a machine for cutting grain" is by 1841. As the name of a personification of death, by 1818.

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ripe (adj.)

Old English ripe, of grain, fruit, seed, a field, "ready for reaping, mature," of animals used as food, "fit for eating," from West Germanic *ripijaz (source also of Old Saxon ripi, Middle Dutch ripe, Dutch rijp, Old High German rifi, German reif); related to Old English repan "to reap" (see reap).

Usually explained as "fit for reaping," in which case it would have been originally of grains and extended to all fruit. Figurative use by c. 1200. As "full-grown, developed, finished" (a ripe age) by late 14c. The meaning "ready for some action or effect" (as in the time is ripe) is from late 14c. Of lips, the mouth, "round and full, like ripe fruit," by 1580s. Related: Ripely. The proverb soon ripe, soon rotten is attested by 1540s.

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*me- (4)

*mē-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut down grass or grain." It forms all or part of: aftermath; math (n.2) "a mowing;" mead (n.2) "meadow;" meadow; mow (v.).

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek (poetic) amao, Latin metere "to reap, mow, crop;" Italian mietere, Old Irish meithleorai "reapers," Welsh medi; Old English mawan "to mow," mæd "meadow."

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earn (v.)
Old English earnian "deserve, earn, merit, labor for, win, get a reward for labor," from Proto-Germanic *aznon "do harvest work, serve" (source also of Old Frisian esna "reward, pay"), denominative verb from *azno "labor" especially "field labor" (source of Old Norse önn "work in the field," Old High German arnon "to reap"), from PIE root *es-en- "harvest, fall" (source also of Old High German aren "harvest, crop," German Ernte "harvest," Old English ern "harvest," Gothic asans "harvest, summer," Old Church Slavonic jeseni, Russian osen, Old Prussian assanis "autumn"). Also from the same root are Gothic asneis, Old High German esni "hired laborer, day laborer," Old English esne "serf, laborer, man." Related: Earned; earning.
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rope (n.)

Middle English rop, from Old English rap "strong, heavy cord of considerable thickness," from Proto-Germanic *raipaz (source also of Old Norse reip, West Frisian reap, Middle Dutch, Dutch reep "rope," Old Frisian silrap "shoe-thong," Gothic skauda-raip "shoe-lace," Old High German, German reif "ring, hoop"). Technically, only cordage above one inch in circumference and below 10 (bigger-around than that is a cable). Nautical use varies. Finnish raippa "hoop, rope, twig" is a Germanic loan-word.

It is attested by early 14c. as "a noose, a snare." Rope of sand (1620s) was an old figure for anything lacking coherence or binding power.

To know the ropes "understand the way to do something" (1840, Dana) originally was a seaman's term. The phrase on the ropes "about to be defeated" is attested from 1924, a figurative extension from the fight ring, where being in or on the ropes was a figure by 1829.

To be at the end of (one's) rope "out of resources and options" is attested by 1680s. An earlier expression was have too long rope "have too much freedom" (late 15c.).

Rope formerly also figured in slang and extended-sense expressions related to punishment by hanging, such as John Roper's window "a noose," rope-ripe "deserving to be hanged," both 16c. The figurative phrase give someone (enough) rope (to hang himself) is by 1680s.

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