Old English hlot "object used to determine someone's share" (anything from dice to straw, but often a chip of wood with a name inscribed on it), also "what falls to a person by lot," from Proto-Germanic *khlutom (source also of Old Norse hlutr "lot, share," Old Frisian hlot "lot," Old Saxon hlot, Middle Dutch, Dutch lot, Old High German hluz "share of land," German Los), from a strong verb (the source of Old English hleotan "to cast lots, obtain by lot; to foretell"). The whole group is of unknown origin.
The object was placed with others in a receptacle (such as a hat or helmet), which was shaken, the winner being the one whose name or mark was on the lot that fell out first. Hence the expression cast lots; to cast (one's) lot with another (1530s, originally biblical) is to agree to share winnings. In some cases the lots were drawn by hand, hence to draw lots. The word was adopted from Germanic into the Romanic languages (Spanish lote, and compare lottery, lotto).
Meaning "choice resulting from the casting of lots" first attested c. 1200. Meaning "share or portion of life" in any way, "that which is given by fate, God or destiny" is from c. 1300. Meaning "number of persons or things of the same kind" is from 1570s (compare Latin mala merx, of persons, literally "a bad lot"). Sense of "plot of land" is first recorded 1630s, American English (distribution of the most desirable properties in new settlements often was determined by casting lots), then especially "parcel of land set aside for a specified purpose" (the Hollywood sense is from 1928). The common U.S. city lot was a rectangle 25 feet wide (along the street) by 100 deep; it was so universal as to be sometimes a unit of measure.
Meaning "group, collection" is 1725, from the notion of auction lots. Lots in the generalized sense of "great many" is attested by 1812; lotsa, colloquial for "lots of," is from 1927; lotta for "lot of" is by 1906.
"plot of empty land in a town or suburb," by 1878, from sand (n.) + lot. As an adjective in reference to the kind of sports or games played on sand-lots by amateurs, it is recorded from 1890 in American English. Earlier it had reference to socialism or communism based on the political movement that originated among orators in the sand-lots of San Francisco (by 1867).
1560s, "arrangement for an awarding of prizes by chance among those buying tickets," from Italian lotteria, from lotto "lot, portion, share," from a Germanic source. It is cognate with Old English hlot (see lot (n.)), and compare lotto. French loterie is from Middle Dutch loterje, from the same Germanic source. Formerly they were typically used to raise money for some state or charitable purpose.
a name given to various plants, not all related or alike, 1540s, from Latin lotus, from Greek lotos, a word used as a name for several plants before it came to mean Egyptian white lotus (a sense attested in English from 1580s). It is perhaps from Semitic (compare Hebrew lot "myrrh"). The plant bears a prominent part in the mythology of India, Egypt, China. The Homeric lotus later was held to be a North African shrub, from which "a kind of wine" [Century Dictionary] can be made. The name has also been given to several species of water-lilies and a bean that grows in water. The yogic sense is attested from 1848.
It was believed to induce a dreamy forgetfulness, hence lotus-eater "one who finds pleasure in a listless life" (1812) is from Greek lotophagoi, mentioned in "Odyssey," book IX (see lotophagi).