"living persons," late Old English; early 14c. as "the fact of dwelling in some place," verbal noun from live (v.). The meaning "manner of course or living" is mid-14c.; that of "action, process, or method of gaining one's livelihood" is attested from c. 1400.
To make a living or a livelihood is to earn enough to keep alive on with economy, not barely enough to maintain life, nor sufficient to live in luxury. [Century Dictionary]
1650s, "meager, barely sufficient for use;" 1701, "too small, limited in scope, lacking amplitude or extent," from scant (adj.) + -y (2). Related: Scantiness "insufficiency" (1560s). Scanties (n.) "underwear" (especially for women) is attested from 1928.
To speken of the horrible disordinat scantnesse of clothyng as ben thise kutted sloppes or hanselyns, that thurgh hire shortnesse ne couere nat the shameful membres of man to wikked entente. [Chaucer, "Parson's Tale"]
c. 1300, scarse, "restricted in quantity, barely sufficient in amount or effect; few in number, rare, seldom seen," from Old North French scars "scanty, scarce" (Old French eschars, Modern French échars), which according to OED is from Vulgar Latin *scarsus, from a presumed *escarpsus, earlier *excarpsus, past participle of *excarpere "pluck out," from classical Latin excerpere "pluck out" (see excerpt).
As an adverb, "hardly, scarcely," early 14c., from the adjective. Phrase make (oneself) scarce "go away, leave at once," is attested by 1771, noted then as a current cant phrase. Related: Scarcely.
Old English near "closer, nearer," comparative of neah, neh"nigh." Partially by the influence of Old Norse naer "near," it came to be used in English as a positive form mid-13c., and new comparative nearer developed in the 1500s (see nigh). Originally an adverb but now supplanted in most such senses by nearly; it has in turn supplanted correct nigh as an adjective.
The adjectival use dates from c. 1300, "being close by, not distant;" from late 14c. as "closely related by kinship;" 1610s as "economical, parsimonious." Colloquial use for "so as to barely escape injury or danger" (as in a near thing, near miss) is by 1751. As a preposition, "close to, close by, near in space or time," from mid-13c. Related: Nearness. In near and dear (1620s) it refers to nearness of kinship. Near East is by 1894 (probably based on Far East). Near beer "low-alcoholic brew" is from 1908.
early 13c. (c. 1200 in Anglo-Latin), "stake, pole, stake for vines," from Old French pal and directly from Latin palus "stake, prop, wooden post" (source also of Spanish and Italian palo), which is from PIE *pakslo-, suffixed form of root *pag- "to fasten." A doublet of pole (n.1).
From late 14c. as "fence of pointed stakes." Paler as a surname meaning "fence-builder" is recorded from late 12c. Another Middle English form of the word in the "fence, paling, wall of an enclosure" sense, based on the plural, was pales, palis (late 14c.), and the surname Paliser is attested from early 14c.
The figurative sense of "limit, boundary, restriction" is from c. 1400, and survives (barely) in beyond the pale and similar phrases. Meaning "the part of Ireland under English rule" is by 1540s (the thing itself dates to the conquests of Henry II), via the notion of "enclosed space," hence "district or region within determined bounds," hence "territory held by power of a nation or people" (mid-15c.).
c. 1400, "precisely, exactly;" late 15c., "fittingly, snugly;" c. 1500, "immediately;" from just (adj.) and paralleling the adverbial use of French juste (also compare Dutch juist, German just, from the adjectives).
The original sense of "exactly" in space, time, kind, or degree; "precisely, without interval, deviation, or variation" is preserved in just so"exactly that, in that very way" (1751), just as I thought, etc. But the sense decayed, as it often does in general words for exactness (compare anon, soon), from "exactly, precisely, punctually" to "within a little; with very little but a sufficient difference; nearly; almost exactly;" then by 1660s to "merely, barely, by or within a narrow margin (as in just missed). Hence just now as "a short time ago" (1680s). Also "very lately, within a brief period of time" (18c.). It is also used intensively, "quite" (by 1855).
Just-so story is attested 1902 in Kipling, from just so "exactly that, in that very way."