Etymology
Advertisement
farm (n.)

c. 1300, "fixed payment (usually in exchange for taxes collected, etc.), fixed rent," from Old French ferme "a rent, lease" (13c.), from Medieval Latin firma "fixed payment," from Latin firmare "to fix, settle, confirm, strengthen," from firmus "strong; stable," figuratively "constant, trusty" (from suffixed form of PIE root *dher- "to hold firmly, support").

Sense of "tract of leased land" is first recorded early 14c.; that of "cultivated land" (leased or not) is 1520s. A word of confused history, but there is agreement that "the purely agricultural sense is comparatively modern" [Century Dictionary]. There is a set of Old English words that appear to be related in sound and sense; if these, too, are from Latin it would be a very early borrowing. Some books strenuously defend a theory that the Anglo-Saxon words are original (perhaps related to feorh "life").

Phrase buy the farm "die in battle," is from at least World War II, perhaps a cynical reference to the draftee's dream of getting out of the war and going home, in many cases to a peaceful farmstead. The simple term buy it as slang for "suffer a mishap," especially "to die" is attested by 1825, and seems to have been picked up in airmen's jargon. Meanwhile fetch the farm is prisoner slang from at least 1879 for "get sent to the infirmary," with reference to the better diet and lighter duties there.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
farm (v.)
mid-15c., "to rent (land)," from Anglo-French fermer, from ferme "a rent, lease" (see farm (n.)). The agricultural sense is from 1719. Original sense is retained in to farm out.
Related entries & more 
farm-house (n.)
also farmhouse, "principal dwelling-house of a farm," 1590s, from farm (n.) + house (n.).
Related entries & more 
farm-hand (n.)
also farmhand, "hired laborer on a farm," by 1835, from farm (n.) + hand (n.) in the "hired workman" sense.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
farmstead (n.)
"collection of buildings belonging to a farm," 1785, from farm (n.) + stead (n.).
Related entries & more 
farming (n.)
1590s, "action of farming out, practice of letting or leasing taxes, etc., for collection," verbal noun from farm (v.). Meaning "business of cultivating land, husbandry" is attested by 1733.
Related entries & more 
farmer (n.)
late 14c., "one who collects taxes, etc.," from Anglo-French fermer, Old French fermier "lease-holder," from Medieval Latin firmarius, from firma "fixed payment" (see farm (n.)). In the agricultural sense, 1590s, replacing native churl and husbandman.
Related entries & more 
*dher- 

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to hold firmly, support." 

It forms all or part of: affirm; confirm; Darius; dharma; farm; fermata; firm (adj.); firm (n.); firmament; furl; infirm; infirmary; terra firma; throne.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit dharmah "custom, statute, law," dharayati "holds;" Prakrit dharaṇa "a holding firm;" Iranian dāra‑ "holding;" Greek thronos "seat;" Latin firmus "strong, steadfast, enduring, stable;" Lithuanian diržnas "strong;" Welsh dir "hard," Breton dir "steel."

Related entries & more 
arbor (n.1)

c. 1300, herber, "herb garden, pleasure garden," from Old French erbier "field, meadow; kitchen garden," from Latin herba "grass, herb" (see herb). Later "a grassy plot" (mid-14c., a sense also in Old French), "shaded nook, bower formed by intertwining of trees, shrubs, or vines" (mid-14c.). It is probably not from Latin arbor "tree" (see arbor (n.2)), though perhaps that word has influenced its spelling:

[O]riginally signifying a place for the cultivation of herbs, a pleasure-ground, garden, subsequently applied to the bower or rustic shelter which commonly occupied the most conspicuous situation in the garden ; and thus the etymological reference to herbs being no longer apparent, the spelling was probably accommodated to the notion of being sheltered by trees or shrubs (arbor). [Hensleigh Wedgwood, "A Dictionary of English Etymology," 1859]

But the change from er- to ar- before consonants in Middle English also reflects a pronunciation shift: compare farm from ferme, harbor from Old English herebeorg.

Related entries & more