c. 1300, "migratory shore-bird of the Old World," from Anglo-French plover, Old French pluvier, earlier plovier (c. 1200), from Vulgar Latin *plovarius, literally "belonging to rain," from Latin pluvia "rain (water)" from pluere "to rain" (from PIE root *pleu- "to flow"). Perhaps it was so called because the birds' migration arrival in Western Europe (it breeds in summer in the Arctic) coincides with the start of the rainy season, or from its supposed restlessness when rain approaches. The name was later extended to related or similar American species.
It forms all or part of: fletcher; fledge; flee; fleet (adj.) "swift;" fleet (n.2) "group of ships under one command;" fleet (v.) "to float, drift; flow, run;" fleeting; flight (n.1) "act of flying;" flight (n.2) "act of fleeing;" flit; float; flood; flotsam; flotilla; flow; flue; flugelhorn; fluster; flutter; fly (v.1) "move through the air with wings;" fly (n.) "winged insect;" fowl; plover; Pluto; plutocracy; pluvial; pneumo-; pneumonia; pneumonic; pulmonary.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit plavate "navigates, swims;" Greek plynein "to wash," plein "to navigate," ploein "to float, swim," plotos "floating, navigable," pyelos "trough, basin;" Latin plovere "to rain," pluvius "rainy;" Armenian luanam "I wash;" Old English flowan "to flow;" Old Church Slavonic plovo "to flow, navigate;" Lithuanian pilu, pilti "to pour out," plauju, plauti "to swim, rinse."
"type of four-toed Eurasian bird," c. 1300, partrich (late 12c. as a surname, Ailwardus Pertiz), from Old French pertis, alteration of perdis (perhaps influenced by fem. suffix -tris), from Latin perdicem (nominative perdix) "plover, lapwing," from Greek perdix, the Greek partridge, a name probably related to perdesthai "to break wind," in reference to the whirring noise of the bird's wings, from PIE imitative base *perd- "to break wind" (source also of Sanskrit pardate "breaks wind," Lithuanian perdžiu, persti, Russian perdet, Old High German ferzan, Old Norse freta, Middle English farten).
At first the word had many variant spellings; the forms in -g- emerge by mid-15c. The name was applied to similar but unrelated species in the Americas from 1630s.