Old English timber "building, structure," in late Old English "building material, trees suitable for building," and "trees or woods in general," from Proto-Germanic *tem(b)ra- (source also of Old Saxon timbar "a building, room," Old Frisian timber "wood, building," Old High German zimbar "timber, wooden dwelling, room," Old Norse timbr "timber," German Zimmer "room"), from PIE *deme- "to build," possibly a form of the root *dem- meaning "house, household" (source of Greek domos, Latin domus).
The related Old English verb timbran, timbrian was the chief word for "to build" (compare Dutch timmeren, German zimmern). As a call of warning when a cut tree is about to fall, it is attested from 1912 in Canadian English. Timbers in the nautical slang sense (see shiver (v.2)) is from the specialized meaning "pieces of wood composing the frames of a ship's hull" (1748).
The timber-wolf (1846) of the U.S. West is the gray wolf, not confined to forests but so-called to distinguish it from the prairie-wolf (coyote).
Middle English bilden, from late Old English byldan "construct a house," verb form of bold "house," from Proto-Germanic *buthla- (source also of Old Saxon bodl, Old Frisian bodel "building, house"), from PIE *bhu- "to dwell," from root*bheue- "to be, exist, grow." Rare in Old English; in Middle English it won out over more common Old English timbran (see timber). Modern spelling is unexplained. Figurative use from mid-15c. Of physical things other than buildings from late 16c. Related: Builded (archaic); built; building.
In the United States, this verb is used with much more latitude than in England. There, as Fennimore Cooper puts it, everything is BUILT. The priest BUILDS up a flock; the speculator a fortune; the lawyer a reputation; the landlord a town; and the tailor, as in England, BUILDS up a suit of clothes. A fire is BUILT instead of made, and the expression is even extended to individuals, to be BUILT being used with the meaning of formed. [Farmer, "Slang and Its Analogues," 1890]
Also from the Late Latin word are Spanish carpintero, Italian carpentiero. Replaced Old English treowwyrhta, which is literally "tree-wright." German Zimmermann "carpenter" is from Old High German zimbarman, from zimbar "wood for building, timber," cognate with Old Norse timbr (see timber). First record of carpenter-bee, which bores into half-rotten wood to deposit its eggs, is from 1795. A carpenter's rule (1690s) is foldable, suitable for carrying in the pocket.