c. 1300, "to send or transport (merchandise, people) by ship; to board a ship; to travel by ship, sail, set sail," also figurative, from ship (n.). Old English scipian is attested only in the senses "take ship, embark; be furnished with a ship." Transferred to other means of conveyance (railroad, etc.) by 1857 in American English. U.S. military phrase ship out "be transported, depart" is by 1948. Related: Shipped; shipping.
early 15c., "assistance, relief, act of supplying," from supply (v.). Meaning "that which is provided, quantity or amount of something provided" is attested from c. 1600. Meaning "person who temporarily takes the place of another" (especially a minister or preacher) is from 1580s. In the political economy sense (corollary of demand (n.)) it dates from 1776; supply-side (adj.) in reference to economic policy is attested from 1976; as a noun by 1922. Supplies "necessary provisions held for distribution and use" is from c. 1650.
word-forming element meaning "quality, condition; act, power, skill; office, position; relation between," Middle English -schipe, from Old English -sciepe, Anglian -scip "state, condition of being," from Proto-Germanic *-skepi- (cognates: Old Norse -skapr, Danish -skab, Old Frisian -skip, Dutch -schap, German -schaft), from *skap- "to create, ordain, appoint," from PIE root *(s)kep-, forming words meaning "to cut, scrape, hack" (see shape (v.)). It often forms abstracts to go with corresponding concretes (friend/friendship, etc.).
late 14c., "to help, support, maintain," also "fill up, make up for," from Old French soupplier "fill up, make full" (Modern French suppléer) and directly from Latin supplere "fill up, make full, complete," from assimilated form of sub "up from below" (see sub-) + plere "to fill" (from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill"). The meaning "furnish, provide" first recorded 1520s. Related: Supplied; supplying.
Middle English ship, "seagoing vessel," especially a large one, from Old English scip "ship, boat, vessel of considerable size adapted to navigation," from Proto-Germanic *skipa- (source also of Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Gothic skip, Danish skib, Swedish skepp, Middle Dutch scip, Dutch schip, Old High German skif, German Schiff). Watkins calls this a "Germanic noun of obscure origin." OED says "the ultimate etymology is uncertain." Traditionally since Pokorny it is derived from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split," perhaps on the notion of a tree cut out or hollowed out, but the semantic connection is unclear. Boutkan gives it "No certain IE etymology."
Now a vessel of considerable size; the Old English word was used for small craft as well, and definitions changed over time; in 19c., a ship was distinguished from a boat in having a bowsprit and three masts, each with a lower, top, and topgallant mast.
French esquif, Italian schifo are Germanic loan-words. By 1590s as the name of a southern constellation (Argo Navis). When personified, ships usually were feminine at least from late 14c., but in 17c.-18c. masculine pronouns became more common, perhaps by influence of the use of man in names such as man-of-war, Dutchman, merchantman. In such combinations, man in the sense of "a ship" is attested from late 15c.
Phrase ships that pass in the night is from Longfellow's poem "Elizabeth" in "Tales of a Wayside Inn" (1863). Expression when (one's) ship comes in "when one's affairs become prosperous" is attested by 1851. The figurative use of nautical tight ship (the notion may be one in which ropes, etc., are tightly stowed) is attested by 1965; compare shipshape.
The model ship inside a bottle with a neck much narrower than the ship is attested by 1920. Ship of fools is in the title of the 1509 translation of Brant's Narrenschiff (1494).
mid-14c., "to stock or supply (a ship, garrison, etc.) with provisions to last for some time," from Anglo-French or Old French vitaillier (12c.), from vitaille (see victuals). Related: Victualed; victualing; Victualer; victualler.