Etymology
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tether (n.)
late 14c., "rope for fastening an animal," not found in Old English, probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse tjoðr "tether," from Proto-Germanic *teudran (source also of Danish tøir, Old Swedish tiuther, Swedish tjuder, Old Frisian tiader, Middle Dutch tuder, Dutch tuier "line, rope," Old High German zeotar "pole of a cart"), from PIE root *deu- "to fasten" + instrumentive suffix *-tro-. Figurative sense of "measure of one's limitations" is attested from 1570s.
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tether (v.)
late 14c. (implied in tethering), "confine by a tether," originally of grazing animals, from tether (n.). Figurative use also from late 14c. Related: Tethered.
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tetherball (n.)
also tether-ball, 1900, from tether (n.) + ball (n.1).
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untether (v.)
1775, from un- (2) "reverse, opposite of" + tether (v.). Related: Untethered; untethering.
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rein (v.)

c. 1300, reinen, "tie (a horse), tether," a sense now obsolete, from rein (n.). From early 15c. as "to pull on the bridle with the reins," to restrain or guide the horse, hence the figurative extension to "put a check on, restrain, control," recorded by 1580s. Related: Reined; reining. To rein up "halt" (1550s) is an image of pulling up on the reins to make a horse halt or back.

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liable (adj.)

mid-15c., "bound or obliged by law," probably from Anglo-French *liable, from Old French lier "to bind, tie up, fasten, tether; bind by obligation" (12c.), from Latin ligare "to bind, to tie" (from PIE root *leig- "to tie, bind"). With -able. Perhaps from an unattested word in Old French or Medieval Latin. General sense of "exposed to" (something undesirable) is from 1590s. Incorrect use for "likely" is attested by 1850.

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pastern (n.)

late 13c., pastron, "shackle fixed on the foot of a horse or other beast," from Old French pasturon (Modern French paturon), diminutive of pasture "shackle for a horse in pasture," from Vulgar Latin *pastoria, noun use of fem. of Latin pastorius "of herdsmen," from pastor "shepherd" (see pastor). Metathesis of -r- and the following vowel occurred 1500s. The original sense is obsolete; the meaning was extended by 1520s to the part of the horse's leg between the fetlock and the hoof, to which the tether was attached.

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rein (n.)

c. 1300, reine, "strap of a bridle," attached to it on either side of the head, by which the rider or driver restrains and guides the animal, from Old French rene, resne "reins, bridle strap, laces" (Modern French rêne), probably from Vulgar Latin *retina "a bond, check," a back-formation from Latin retinere "hold back" (see retain). Compare Latin retinaculum "a tether, halter, rein."

The figurative extension of reins to "guidance, means of controlling; control, check, restraint" is by mid-14c. Hence many expressions, originally from horse-management: Hold the reins "wield power" (early 15c.); take the reins "assume the power of guidance or government" (1610s). To give something free rein also is originally of horses; to give (a horse) the reins (1620s) is to allow it free motion.

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stake (v.1)

early 13c., staken, "fasten to a stake, tether," from stake (n.1). Also "to impale" (c. 1400). From c. 1400 as "support (a vine, etc.) with stakes, provide with stakes or poles."

From early 14c. as "divide or lay off and mark (land) with stakes or posts," now usually with out (mid-15c.) or off . Hence, stake a claim "make and register a land claim" (1857, American English), often in a figurative sense (by 1876). Meaning "to maintain surveillance (of a place) to detect criminal activity" (usually stake out) is recorded by 1942, American English, probably from the earlier sense of "mark off territory." Related: Staked; staking.

Compare Middle Dutch, Middle Low German staken, also from the nouns, and Old French estachier, Spanish estacar, from their respective nouns, which were borrowed from Germanic. Old English had stacung "piercing of an effigy by a pin or stake" (in witchcraft); staccan "pierce with a stake, spit."

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stake (n.1)

"pointed stick or post; stick of wood sharpened at one end for driving into the ground, used as part of a fence, as a boundary-mark, as a post to tether an animal to, or as a support for something (a vine, a tent, etc.)," Old English staca "pin, stake," from Proto-Germanic *stakon (source also of Old Norse stiaki "a stake, pole, candlestick,"Old Frisian stake, Middle Dutch stake, Dutch staak "a stake, post," Middle Low German stake "a stake, post, pillory, prison"), from PIE root *steg- (1) "pole, stick." The Germanic word was borrowed in Romanic (Spanish and Portuguese estaca "a stake," Old French estaque, estache, Italian stacca "a hook"), and was borrowed back as attach.

Meaning "post to which a person condemned to death by burning is bound" is from c. 1200, also "post to which a bear to be baited is tied" (late 14c.). Meaning "vertical bar fixed in a socket or in staples on the edge of the bed of a platform railway-car or of a vehicle to secure the load from rolling off, or, when a loose substance, as gravel, etc., is carried, to hold in place boards which retain the load," is by 1875; hence stake-body as a type of truck (1903).

Pull up stakes was used c. 1400 as "abandon a position" (the allusion is to pulling up the stakes of a tent); the modern American English figurative expression in the sense of "move one's habitation" is by 1703.

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