late 12c., "leather made from the skin of a sheep," especially when dressed or preserved with the wool on, from sheep + skin (n.). By mid-14c. as "piece of parchment with writing on it;" the U.S. slang meaning "diploma" dates from 1804; so called because formerly they were written on sheepskin parchment.
native or inhabitant of Afghanistan, 1784, properly only the Durani Afghans; a name of uncertain origin. It is first attested in Arabic in al-'Utbi's "History of Sultan Mahmud" written c.1030 C.E. and was in use in India from 13c. Old Afghan chronicles trace the name to a legendary Afghana, son of Jeremiah, son of Israelite King Saul, from whom they claimed descent.
In English, attested from 1833 as a type of blanket or wrap (short for Afghan shawl); by 1877 as a type of carpet; by 1895 as a breed of hunting dog; by 1973 as a style of sheepskin coat.
1510s, "garment consisting of a long piece of woolen cloth, often having a tartan pattern, traditionally worn in Scotland," from Scottish, from or related to Gaelic plaide "blanket, mantle," a word of uncertain etymology, perhaps a contraction of peallaid "sheepskin," from peall "skin," from Latin pellis (but OED finds this "phonetically improbable").
It is a large rectangular piece of woolen stuff, and is worn in Scotland by both sexes for warmth and for protection against the weather. It is a special dress of the Highlanders, and forms part of the uniform of certain infantry regiments in the British army. A variety of the plaid is called maud. [Century Dictionary]
The wearing of it by males was forbidden by Act of Parliament, under penalty of transportation, 1746-82. The meaning "a pattern of bars crossing each other at right angles" is by 1890. As an adjective, "ornamented with a pattern of bars or stripes of color crossing one another at right angles," c. 1600, from the noun.
c. 1200, frensh, frenche, "pertaining to France or the French," from Old English frencisc "French," originally "of the Franks," from franca, the people name (see Frank). A similar contraction of -ish is in Dutch, Scotch, Welsh, suggesting the habit applies to the names of only the intimate neighbors.
In some provincial forms of English it could mean simply "foreign." Used in many combination-words, often dealing with food or sex: French dressing (by 1860); French toast (1630s); French letter "condom" (c. 1856, perhaps on resemblance of sheepskin and parchment), french (v.) "perform oral sex on," and French kiss (1923) all probably stem from the Anglo-Saxon equation of Gallic culture and sexual sophistication, a sense first recorded 1749 in the phrase French novel. (In late 19c.-early 20c., a French kiss was a kiss on each cheek.) French-Canadian is from 1774; French doors is by 1847. To take French leave, "depart without telling the host," is 1771, from a social custom then prevalent. However, this is said to be called in France filer à l'anglaise, literally "to take English leave."