mid-15c., "non-animal life," originally any plant, from vegetable (adj.); specific sense of "plant cultivated for food, edible herb or root" is first recorded 1767. Meaning "person who leads a monotonous life" is recorded from 1921; sense of "one totally incapacitated mentally and physically" is from 1976.
The Old English word was wyrt (see wort). The commonest source of words for vegetables in Indo-European languages are derivatives of words for "green" or "growing" (compare Italian, Spanish verdura, Irish glasraidh, Danish grøntsager). For a different association, compare Greek lakhana, related to lakhaino "to dig."
early 15c., "capable of life or growth; growing, vigorous;" also "neither animal nor mineral, of the plant kingdom, living and growing as a plant," from Old French vegetable "living, fit to live," and directly from Medieval Latin vegetabilis "growing, flourishing," from Late Latin vegetabilis "animating, enlivening," from Latin vegetare "to enliven," from vegetus "vigorous, enlivened, active, sprightly," from vegere "to be alive, active, to quicken," from PIE root *weg- "to be strong, be lively." The meaning "resembling that of a vegetable, dull, uneventful; having life such as a plant has" is attested from 1854 (see vegetable (n.)).
slang shortening of vegetable (n.), 1976; earlier vegie (1955). Related: Veggies.
c. 1400, from Medieval Latin *vegetalis, from Latin vegetare (see vegetable (adj.)).
1560s, "act of vegetating," from French végétation and directly from Medieval Latin vegetationem (nominative vegetatio) "a quickening, action of growing," from vegetare "grow, quicken" (see vegetable). Meaning "plant life" first recorded 1727.
late 14c., "endowed with the power of growth," from Old French vegetatif "(naturally) growing," from Medieval Latin vegetativus, from vegetat-, past participle stem of vegetare (see vegetable (adj.)). Middle English transferred sense was "characterized by growth." Modern pathological sense of "brain-dead, lacking intellectual activity, mentally inert" is from 1893, via notion of having only such functions which perform involuntarily or unconsciously and thus are likened to the processes of vegetable growth.
c. 1600, "to grow as plants do," perhaps a back-formation from vegetation, or from Latin vegetatus, past participle of vegetare "to enliven, to animate" (see vegetable (adj.)). Sense of "to lead a dull, empty, or stagnant life" is from 1740. Related: Vegetated; vegetating.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be strong, be lively."
It forms all or part of: awake; bewitch; bivouac; invigilate; reveille; surveillance; vedette; vegetable; velocity; vigil; vigilant; vigilante; vigor; waft; wait; wake (v.) "emerge or arise from sleep;" waken; watch; Wicca; wicked; witch.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vajah "force, strength," vajayati "drives on;" Latin vigil "watchful, awake," vigere "be lively, thrive," velox "fast, lively," vegere "to enliven," vigor "liveliness, activity;" Old English wacan "to become awake," German wachen "to be awake," Gothic wakan "to watch."