"action of wearing" (clothes), mid-15c., from wear (v.). Meaning "what one wears" is 1560s. To be the worse for wear is attested from 1782; noun phrase wear and tear is first recorded 1660s, implying the sense "process of being degraded by use."
Old English werian "to clothe, put on, cover up," from Proto-Germanic *wasīn- (source also of Old Norse verja, Old High German werian, Gothic gawasjan "to clothe"), from PIE *wos-eyo-, suffixed form of *wes- (2) "to clothe," extended form of root *eu- "to dress."
The Germanic forms "were homonyms of the vb. for 'prevent, ward off, protect' (Goth. warjan, O.E. werian, etc.), and this was prob. a factor in their early displacement in most of the Gmc. languages" [Buck]. It shifted from a weak verb (past tense and past participle wered) to a strong one (past tense wore, past participle worn) in 14c. on analogy of rhyming strong verbs such as bear and tear. Secondary sense of "use up, gradually damage" (late 13c.) is from effect of continued use on clothes. To wear down (transitive) "overcome by steady force" is from 1843. To wear off "diminish by attrition or use" is from 1690s.
by c. 1200 as an emphatic form of Old English of (see of), employed in the adverbial use of that word. The prepositional meaning "away from" and the adjectival sense of "farther" were not firmly fixed in this variant until 17c., but once they were they left the original of with the transferred and weakened senses of the word. Meaning "not working" is from 1861.
Off the cuff "extemporaneously, without preparation" (1938) is from the notion of speaking from notes written in haste on one's shirt cuffs. In reference to clothing, off the rack (adj.) "not tailored, not made to individual requirements, ready-made" is by 1963, on the notion of buying it from the rack of a clothing store; off the record "not to be publicly disclosed" is from 1933; off the wall "crazy" is 1968, probably from the notion of a lunatic "bouncing off the walls" or else in reference to carom shots in squash, handball, etc.
"to kill," 1930, from off (adv.). Earlier verbal senses were "to defer" (1640s), "to move off" (1882). Related: Offed.