mid-15c., "portable equipment of an army; plunder, loot," from Old French bagage "baggage, (military) equipment" (14c.), from bague "pack, bundle, sack," probably ultimately from the same Scandinavian source that yielded bag (n.). Later used of the bags, trunks, packages, etc., of a traveler (in this sense British English historically prefers luggage). Baggage-smasher (1847) was American English slang for "railway porter."
Used disparagingly, "worthless woman, strumpet" from 1590s; sometimes also playfully, "saucy or flirtatious woman" (1670s). Emotional baggage "detrimental unresolved feelings and issues from past experiences" is attested by 1957.
"male homosexual," 1914, American English slang, probably from earlier contemptuous term for "woman" (1590s), especially an old and unpleasant one, in reference to faggot (n.1) "bundle of sticks," as something awkward that has to be carried (compare baggage "worthless woman," 1590s). It may also be reinforced by Yiddish faygele "homosexual" (n.), literally "little bird." It also may have roots in British public school slang noun fag "a junior who does certain duties for a senior" (1785), with suggestions of "catamite," from fag (v.). This also spun off a verb (see fag (v.2).
He [the prefect] used to fag me to blow the chapel organ for him. ["Boy's Own Paper," Aug. 3, 1889]
Other obsolete British senses of faggot were "man hired into military service merely to fill out the ranks at muster" (1700) and "vote manufactured for party purposes" (1817).
The explanation that male homosexuals were called faggots because they were burned at the stake as punishment is an etymological urban legend. Burning sometimes was a punishment meted out to homosexuals in Christian Europe (on the suggestion of the Biblical fate of Sodom and Gomorrah), but in England, where parliament had made homosexuality a capital offense in 1533, hanging was the method prescribed. Use of faggot in connection with public executions had long been obscure English historical trivia by the time the word began to be used for "male homosexual" in 20th century American slang, whereas the contemptuous slang word for "woman" (in common with the other possible sources or influences listed here) was in active use early 20c., by D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce, among others.
"small sack," c. 1200, bagge, probably from Old Norse baggi "pack, bundle," or a similar Scandinavian source. OED rejects connection to other Germanic words for "bellows, belly" as without evidence and finds a Celtic origin untenable. In some senses perhaps from Old French bague, which is also from Germanic.
As disparaging slang for "woman" it dates from 1924 in modern use (but various specialized senses of this are much older, and compare baggage). Meaning "person's area of interest or expertise" is 1964, from African-American vernacular, from jazz sense of "category," probably via notion of putting something in a bag. Meaning "fold of loose skin under the eye" is by 1867. Related: bags.
To be left holding the bag (and presumably nothing else), "cheated, swindled" is attested by 1793. Many figurative senses, such as the verb meaning "to kill game" (1814) and its colloquial extension to "catch, seize, steal" (1818) are from the notion of the game bag (late 15c.) into which the product of the hunt was placed. This also probably explains modern slang in the bag "assured, certain" (1922, American English).
To let the cat out of the bag "reveal the secret" is from 1760. The source is probably the French expression Acheter chat en poche "buy a cat in a bag," which is attested in 18c. French and explained in Bailey's "Universal Etymological English Dictionary" (1736), under the entry for To buy a pig in a poke as "to buy a Thing without looking at it, or enquiring into the Value of it." (Similar expressions are found in Italian and German; and in English, Wyclif (late 14c.) has To bye a catte in þo sakke is bot litel charge). Thus to let the cat out of the bag would be to inadvertently reveal the hidden truth of a matter one is attempting to pass off as something better or different, which is in line with the earliest uses in English.
Sir Joseph letteth the cat out of the bag, and sheweth principles inimical to the cause of true philosophy, by wishing to make great men Fellows, instead of wise men ["Peter Pindar," "Peter's Prophecy," 1788]
late 14c., "thing of little use or value, waste, refuse, dross," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse tros "rubbish, fallen leaves and twigs," Norwegian dialectal trask "lumber, trash, baggage," Swedish trasa "rags, tatters"), of unknown origin. Applied to ill-bred persons or groups from 1604 ("Othello"), and especially of poor whites in the U.S. South by 1831. Applied to domestic refuse or garbage from 1906 (American English). Trash-can is attested from 1914. To trash-talk someone or something is by 1989.
1590s, in reference to in North Africa or western Asia, "company of travelers, pilgrims, merchants, etc., going together for security," from French caravane, from Old French carvane, carevane "caravan" (13c.), or Medieval Latin caravana, words picked up during the Crusades, via Arabic qairawan from Persian karwan "group of desert travelers" (which Klein connects to Sanskrit karabhah "camel").
Used in English for "any large number of persons traveling together with much baggage" (1660s), hence "a large covered carriage for conveying passengers" (1670s) or later for traveling shows or used as a house by Gypsies. In modern British use (from 1930s), often a rough equivalent of the U.S. camper or recreational vehicle.