Etymology
Advertisement
rate (n.)

early 15c., "estimated value or worth, proportional estimation according to some standard; monetary amount; a proportional part," from Old French rate "price, value" and directly from Medieval Latin rata (pars) "fixed (amount)," from Latin rata "fixed, settled," fem. past participle of reri "to reckon, think" (from PIE root *re- "to reason, count").

Meaning "degree of speed" (properly ratio between distance and time) is attested from 1650s. Currency exchange sense of "basis of equivalence upon which one currency is exchanged for another" is recorded by 1727. Meaning "fixed public tax assessed on property for some local purpose" is by 1712.

First-rate, second-rate, etc. are 1640s, from British Navy division of ships into six classes based on size and strength. Phrase at any rate originally (1610s) meant "at any cost," hence "positively, assuredly." weakened sense of "at least" is attested by 1760. Rate-payer "one who is assessed and pays a local tax" is by 1825.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
rate (v.1)

"to scold, chide vehemently, rebuke," late 14c., raten, probably from Old French rateir, variant of reter "to impute blame, accuse, find fault with," from Latin reputare "to count over, reflect," in Vulgar Latin, "to impute, blame," from re- "repeatedly" (see re-) + putare "to judge, suppose, believe, suspect" (originally "to clean, trim, prune," from PIE root *pau- (2) "to cut, strike, stamp"). Related: Rated; rating.

Old French reter also was borrowed into Middle English as retten "to blame" (c. 1300); also "to attribute, impute" (late 14c.), "to consider, think about" (late 14c.).

Related entries & more 
rate (v.2)

"estimate the worth or value of, reckon by comparative estimation," mid-15c., raten, from rate (n.). Intransitive sense of "have a certain value, rank, or standing" is from 1809; specifically as "have high value" by 1928. Related: Rated; rating.

Related entries & more 
poor-rate (n.)

"assessment or tax imposed by law for the relief or support of the poor in a particular community," c. 1600, from poor (n.) + rate (n.).

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
second-rate (adj.)
1660s, originally of ships; see rate (n.).
Related entries & more 
first-rate (adj.)
"of the highest excellence," 1660s, from first (adj.) + rate (n.) in a specific sense "class of warships in the British Navy." As a mere emphatic statement expressing excellence, by 1812. Colloquially, as a quasi-adverb, 1844.
Related entries & more 
rating (n.2)

"a reproving," 1570s, verbal noun from rate (v.1).

Related entries & more 
overrate (v.)

also over-rate, "to rate or estimate too highly," 1610s, from over- + rate (v.). Related: Overrated; overrating.

Related entries & more 
underrate (v.)
also under-rate, 1640s, "to esteem at too little worth," from under + rate (v.). Related: Underrated; underrating.
Related entries & more