Etymology
Advertisement
servant (n.)

c. 1200, servaunt, "male or female personal or domestic attendant, one owing duty of service to a master or lord, one employed by another and subject to his orders," from Old French servant "servant; foot-soldier," noun use of servant "serving, waiting," present participle of servir "to attend, wait upon" (see serve (v.)).

From early 14c. as "a slave," also used of bees. In North American colonies and in U.S., it was the usual designation for "slave" 17c.-18c. (in 14c.-15c. and later in Biblical translations the word often was used to render Latin servus, Greek doulos "slave").

Also in Middle English "professed lover, one devoted to the service of a lady" (mid-14c.).  In 14c.-16c. sometimes confused with sergeant.  Public servant is attested from 1670s. Wyclif (late 14c.) has servauntesse "female slave, maidservant, handmaiden."

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
maidservant (n.)

also maid-servant, "female servant," 1520s, from maid (n.) + servant.

Related entries & more 
manservant (n.)

also man-servant, "a man who is a servant," late 14c., from man (n.) + servant.

Related entries & more 
sergeant (n.)

c. 1200 (late 12c. as a surname), sergeaunt, also sergiaunte, serjainte, sergunt, cerjaunt, etc., "a servant, servingman," especially "an officer in a lord's retinue," from Old French sergent, serjant "(domestic) servant, valet; court official; soldier," from Medieval Latin servientum (nominative serviens) "servant, vassal, soldier" (in Late Latin "public official"), from Latin servire "to serve" (see serve (v.)).

The Latin word also is the source of Spanish sirviente, Italian servente. Sergeant is thus essentially a doublet of servant, and 16c. writers in English sometimes use the two words interchangeably.

By c. 1300 in a feudal sense of "tenant by military service under the rank of knight;" the modern military meaning "non-commissioned military officer" is recorded by 1540s. Originally a much more important position than after. As a police rank, in Great Britain from 1839.

The sense of "officer whose duty is to enforce judgments of a tribunal or legislative body" is from c. 1300 (hence sergeant at arms, attested from late 14c.). 

The Middle English alternative spelling serjeant (from Old French) was retained in Britain in special use as the title of a superior order of barristers from which Common Law judges were chosen (mid-14c.); in this use it is from the legal Latin phrase serviens ad legem, "one who serves (the king) in matters of law"). It was also used of certain other officers of the royal household.

Fem. form sergeantess is attested from mid-15c. Sergeant-major is attested from 1570s. The sergeant-fish (1871) so-called for lateral markings resembling a sergeant's stripes. Related: Sergeancy.

Related entries & more 
valet (n.)
"personal man-servant," mid-14c. (late 12c. as a surname), from Old French valet, variant of vaslet "man's servant, workman's assistant," originally "squire, young man, youth of noble birth" (12c.), from Gallo-Roman *vassellittus "young nobleman, squire, page," diminutive of Medieval Latin vassallus, from vassus "servant" (see vassal). Modern sense is usually short for valet de chambre; the general sense of "male household servant of the meaner sort" going with the variant form varlet. First recorded use of valet parking is from 1959.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
vassal (n.)
early 14c. (c. 1200 as a surname) "tenant who pledges fealty to a lord," from Old French vassal "subject, subordinate, servant" (12c.), from Medieval Latin vassallus "manservant, domestic, retainer," extended from vassus "servant," from Old Celtic *wasso- "young man, squire" (source also of Welsh gwas "youth, servant," Breton goaz "servant, vassal, man," Irish foss "servant"), literally "one who stands under," from PIE root *upo "under." The adjective is recorded from 1580s.
Related entries & more 
Abd 
element in many Arabic names, from Arabic (Semitic) abd "slave, servant," as in Abdallah "servant of God."
Related entries & more 
Malcolm 
masc. proper name, from Old Irish Máel Coluim "servant of (St.) Columba," from máel "servant," etymologically "bald, shorn, hornless," from PIE base *mai- (1) "to cut" (see maim).
Related entries & more 
axolotl (n.)
genus of Mexican salamanders, 1786, from Spanish, from Nahuatl, literally "servant of water," from atl "water" + xolotl "slippery or wrinkled one, servant, slave" [see Frances Karttunen, "An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl"].
Related entries & more 
indentured (adj.)
"bound by indenture," 1748 (in indentured servant), past-participle adjective from indenture (v.).
Related entries & more