"practicing beggary, living by alms or doles" (in reference to orders of friars), late 15c., mendicaunt, from Latin mendicantem (nominative mendicans) present participle of mendicare "to beg, ask alms," from mendicus "beggar," originally "cripple" (connection via cripples who must beg), from menda "fault, physical defect," from PIE root *mend- "physical defect, fault" (see amend (v.)).
Meaning "reduced to beggary, begging" is from 1610s. The older word in Middle English in relation to religious orders was mendinant (mid-14c.), from Old French mendinant, present participle of mendiner "to beg," from the same Latin source. The mendicant orders (freurs mendicantes or begging friars, principally the Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Augustinians) were those religious orders which originally depended for support on the alms they received.
"a beggar, one who lives by asking alms," late 14c., from Latin mendicantem (nominative mendicans), noun use of present participle of mendicare "to beg, ask alms" (see mendicant (adj.)).
"beggary," c. 1400, mendicite, from Old French mendicite "begging," from Latin mendicitatem (nominative mendicitas) "beggary" (see mendicant (adj.) ).
"to wander about aimlessly," 1746, earlier "to mumble, grumble" (1620s), both senses perhaps (with a notion of "to speak with a beggar's whine or grumble") from frequentative of maund "to beg" (1560s), which is possibly from French mendier "to beg," from Latin mendicare "to beg, ask alms" (see mendicant).
"Though the etymology of maunder is uncertain, it is clear that it is not a corruption of meander" [Fowler], but the two words seem to have influenced each other. Meaning "to wander in talking like one drunken or foolish" is by 1831. Fowler writes that maunder is "best confined to speech, & suggests futility rather than digression ... & failure to reach an end rather than loitering on the way to it." Related: Maundered; maundering.
"member of one of the mendicant monastic orders of the Church," late 13c., frere, from Old French frere "brother, friar" (9c., Modern French frère), originally referring to the mendicant orders (Franciscans, Augustines, Dominicans, Carmelites), who reached England early 13c., from Latin frater "brother" (from PIE root *bhrater- "brother"). Also in general use, "brother, friend, comrade" (c. 1300).
By the word [friar] is meant a member of one of the mendicant orders, i.e. those living entirely on alms, especially the 'four orders' of Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, & Augustinian Hermits. [Monk] is used sometimes of all male members of religious orders including friars, but properly excludes the mendicants. In the latter case the general distinction is that while the monk belongs essentially to his particular monastery, & his object is to make a good man of himself, the friar's sphere of work is outside, & his object is to do a good work among the people. [Fowler]
"put into a bag, pack in a sack" for preservation or transport, hence also generally "to lay up, hoard;" c. 1300, from sack (n.1). Related: Sacked; sacking. The sacked friars (c. 1400, sakked freres) were a mendicant order noted for wearing sackcloth; they appeared in England mid-13c.
"Black friar, one of an order of mendicant preaching friars," 1630s, from Latin form of the name of Domingo de Guzman (Santo Domingo), who founded the order in Languedoc. They were confirmed by the pope in 1216. His name, like Italian form Dominic (q.v.), is from Latin dominicus,which in Christian use meant "devoted to the Lord."
"one who asks alms," especially as a way of life, c. 1200, from Old French begart, "a member of the Beghards," a mendicant order of lay brothers in the Low Countries, from Middle Dutch beggaert "mendicant," a word of uncertain origin, with pejorative suffix (see -ard). The common noun is perhaps from the proper name; compare Beguine. Early folk etymology connected the English word with bag, but this is now dismissed (see OED).
From mid-14c. as "one who is indigent" (whether begging or not). From c. 1300 as "mean or low person;" as a familiar term for "a fellow, man" by 1833. Form with -ar attested from 14c., but begger was more usual 15c.-17c. The feminine form beggestere is attested as a surname from c. 1300. Beggar's velvet was an old name for "dust bunnies."