"important vein of an ore or mineral in rock," 1849, from mother (n.1) + lode (n.); said to be a translation of Mexican Spanish veta madre, a name given to rich silver veins. The American use is first in reference to a conspicuous vein of quartz rich in gold discovered during the gold rush in the Sierra Nevada of California. The colloquial or figurative sense of "richest source of something" is by 1916.
late 14c. (late 13c. as a surname), "a star that leads or serves to guide," an old name for the pole star as the star that "leads the way" in navigation; from lode (n.) "a way, a course, something to be followed" (a Middle English variant spelling of load (n.) that preserved the original Old English sense of that noun) + star (n.). Figurative use from late 14c. Compare lodestone. Similar formation in Old Norse leiðarstjarna, German Leitstern, Danish ledestjerne.
c. 1200, lode, lade "that which is laid upon a person or beast, burden," a sense extension from Old English lad "a way, a course, a carrying; a street, watercourse; maintenance, support," from Proto-Germanic *laitho (source also of Old High German leita, German leite, Old Norse leið "way, road, course"), from PIE root *leit- (2) "to go forth" (see lead (v.1)).
It seems to have expanded its range of senses in early Middle English, supplanting words based on lade (v.), to which it is not etymologically connected. The older senses went with the spelling lode (q.v.). The spelling is modern. Meaning "amount customarily loaded at one time" is from c. 1300; meaning "a quantity of strong drink taken" is from 1590s. Meaning "the charge of a firearm" is from 1690s.
Meaning "a great amount or number" (often loads) is from c.1600. Figurative sense of "burden weighing on the mind, heart, or soul" is first attested 1590s. Meaning "amount (of work, etc.) to be done by one person" is attested in compounds from 1939 (first was workload). Colloquial loads "lots, heaps" is attested from c. 1600. Phrase take a load off (one's) feet "sit down, relax" is from 1914, American English. Get a load of "take a look at" is American English colloquial, attested from 1929.
1905, from Anthony Comstock (1844-1915), founder of New York Society for the Suppression of Vice (1873) and self-appointed crusader against immorality, + -ery. Coined by George Bernard Shaw after Comstock objected to "Mrs. Warren's Profession." "Comstockery is the world's standing joke at the expense of the United States" [Shaw, New York Times, Sept. 26, 1905]. The Comstock lode, silver vein in Nevada, was discovered 1859 and first worked by U.S. prospector Henry T.P. Comstock (1820-1870), apparently unrelated to Anthony.
"pit or tunnel made in the earth for the purpose of obtaining metals and minerals," c. 1300, from Old French mine "vein, lode; tunnel, shaft; mineral ore; mine" (for coal, tin, etc,), a word of uncertain origin, probably from a Celtic source (compare Welsh mwyn, Irish mein "ore, mine"), from Old Celtic *meini-. Italy and Greece were relatively poor in minerals, thus they did not contribute a word for this to English, but there was extensive mining from an early date in Celtic lands (Cornwall, etc.).
From c. 1400 in the military sense of "a tunnel under fortifications to overthrow them" (for further development of this sense see mine (n.2)).