c. 1300, "one who accompanies or associates with another," from Old French compagnon "fellow, mate, friend, partner" (12c.), from Late Latin companionem (nominative companio), literally "bread fellow, messmate," from Latin com "with, together" (see com-) + panis "bread," from PIE root *pa- "to feed."
The Late Latin word is found first in the 6c. Frankish Lex Salica, and probably it is a translation of some Germanic word (compare Gothic gahlaiba "messmate," from hlaib "loaf of bread"). It replaced Old English gefera "traveling companion," from faran "go, fare."
The meaning "A person who lives with another in need of society, and who, though receiving remuneration, is treated rather as a friend and equal than as an inferior or servant" [OED] is from 1766.
mid-14c., "associate, fellow, comrade;" late 14c.,"habitual companion, friend;" from Middle Low German mate, gemate "one eating at the same table, messmate," from Proto-Germanic *ga-matjon, meaning "(one) having food (*matiz) together (*ga-)." For *matiz, see meat. It is built on the same notion as companion (which is thought to be a loan-translation from Germanic). Cognate with German Maat "mate," Dutch maat "partner, colleague, friend."
Meaning "one of a wedded pair" is attested from 1540s. Used as a form of address by sailors, laborers, etc., at least since mid-15c. Meaning "officer on a merchant vessel" is from late 15c.; his duty is to oversee the execution of the orders of the master or commander.
It forms all or part of: antipasto; appanage; bannock; bezoar; companion; company; feed; fodder; food; forage; foray; foster; fur; furrier; impanate; pabulum; panatela; panic (n.2) "type of grass;" pannier; panocha; pantry; pastern; pastor; pasture; pester; repast; satrap.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek pateisthai "to feed;" Latin pabulum "food, fodder," panis "bread," pasci "to feed," pascare "to graze, pasture, feed," pastor "shepherd," literally "feeder;" Avestan pitu- "food;" Old Church Slavonic pasti "feed cattle, pasture;" Russian pishcha "food;" Old English foda, Gothic fodeins "food, nourishment."
1640s, "a boon companion, one who is convivial," from French convive, from Latin conviva "a guest, a table-companion, one who feasts with others," from convivere "to live together, carouse together" (see convivial). In 19c., also "woman 'who lives in the same house with a number of others' " (1851).