c. 1200, extended form of earlier wick "bad, wicked, false" (12c.), which apparently is an adjectival use of Old English wicca "wizard" (see witch). Formed as if a past participle, but there is no corresponding verb. For evolution, compare wretched from wretch. Slang ironic sense of "wonderful" first attested 1920, in F. Scott Fitzgerald. As an adverb from early 15c. Related: Wickedly.
c. 1300, shreued, "wicked, depraved, malicious, evil," from shrewe "wicked man" (see shrew) + -ed. Compare crabbed from crab (n.), dogged from dog (n.), wicked from witch (n.), all from early Middle English.
The weaker or neutral sense of "cunning, sly, artful, clever or keen-witted in practical affairs," hence "acute, sagacious" is recorded from 1510s. Related: Shrewdly; shrewdness. Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes of the People of England" (1801) and a mid-15th century list of terms of association have a shrewdness of apes for a company or group of them. Shrewdie "cunning person" is by 1916.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be strong, be lively."
It forms all or part of: awake; bewitch; bivouac; invigilate; reveille; surveillance; vedette; vegetable; velocity; vigil; vigilant; vigilante; vigor; waft; wait; wake (v.) "emerge or arise from sleep;" waken; watch; Wicca; wicked; witch.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vajah "force, strength," vajayati "drives on;" Latin vigil "watchful, awake," vigere "be lively, thrive," velox "fast, lively," vegere "to enliven," vigor "liveliness, activity;" Old English wacan "to become awake," German wachen "to be awake," Gothic wakan "to watch."
"wicked in the extreme," c. 1600, from Latin nefarius "wicked, abominable, impious," from nefas "crime, wrong, impiety," from ne- "not" (from PIE root *ne- "not") + fas "right, lawful, divinely spoken," related to fari "to speak," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say." Related: Nefariously; nefariousness.
early 14c., of things or behaviors, "wicked, sinful;" mid-15c., of persons, "having an evil disposition toward others, harboring violent hatred," from Old French maligne "having an evil nature," from Latin malignus "wicked, bad-natured," from male "badly" (see mal-) + -gnus "born," from gignere "to bear, beget," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget."