Earliest attested sense in English is now-obsolete meaning "male member, penis" (c. 1400). Modern sense is from the notion of within the verge (c. 1500, also as Anglo-French dedeinz la verge), i.e. "subject to the Lord High Steward's authority" (as symbolized by the rod of office), originally a 12-mile radius round the king's court. Sense shifted to "the outermost edge of an expanse or area." Meaning "point at which something happens" (as in on the verge of) is first attested c. 1600. "A very curious sense development." [Weekley]
Proto-Indo-European root forming words meaning "to turn, bend."
It forms all or part of: adverse; anniversary; avert; awry; controversy; converge; converse (adj.) "exact opposite;" convert; diverge; divert; evert; extroversion; extrovert; gaiter; introrse; introvert; invert; inward; malversation; obverse; peevish; pervert; prose; raphe; reverberate; revert; rhabdomancy; rhapsody; rhombus; ribald; sinistrorse; stalwart; subvert; tergiversate; transverse; universe; verbena; verge (v.1) "tend, incline;" vermeil; vermicelli; vermicular; vermiform; vermin; versatile; verse (n.) "poetry;" version; verst; versus; vertebra; vertex; vertigo; vervain; vortex; -ward; warp; weird; worm; worry; worth (adj.) "significant, valuable, of value;" worth (v.) "to come to be;" wrangle; wrap; wrath; wreath; wrench; wrest; wrestle; wriggle; wring; wrinkle; wrist; writhe; wrong; wroth; wry.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vartate "turns round, rolls;" Avestan varet- "to turn;" Hittite hurki- "wheel;" Greek rhatane "stirrer, ladle;" Latin vertere (frequentative versare) "to turn, turn back, be turned; convert, transform, translate; be changed," versus "turned toward or against;" Old Church Slavonic vrŭteti "to turn, roll," Russian vreteno "spindle, distaff;" Lithuanian verčiu, versti "to turn;" German werden, Old English weorðan "to become;" Old English -weard "toward," originally "turned toward," weorthan "to befall," wyrd "fate, destiny," literally "what befalls one;" Welsh gwerthyd "spindle, distaff;" Old Irish frith "against."
1839 in South African English, rant, "rocky ridge overlooking a river valley," from Afrikaans, from Dutch rand "edge, margin, rim," from Proto-Germanic *randaz "edge, rim, crust" (source also of Old English rand "brink, bank," Old High German rant "border or rim of a shield," German Rand "edge, border, margin," Old Norse rönd "shield-rim, shield," Swedish rand "stripe, edge, verge").
As a unit of currency, adopted by the Republic of South Africa in 1961 (see Krugerrand). Johnson's dictionary has rand "Border; seam: as the rand of a woman's shoe." The Old English cognate survived into Middle English as rand "strip or border of land."
Old English rima "edge, border, verge, coast," as in særima "seashore," literally "rim of the sea," and dægrima "dawn," literally "rim of the day." Related to Old Norse rime, rimi "a raised strip of land, ridge," Old Frisian rim "edge." "There are app. no parallel forms in the other Teutonic languages" [OED]. but with no other known cognates.
As "the circular part farthest from the axis of a wheel," c. 1400. The general sense of "border or edge of anything," typically a circular border raised above the enclosed surface, is by c. 1600. The snare drummer's rim shot (striking the rim and the head at once) is recorded from 1934. In political geography, rimland for "peripheral region of political or strategic significance" is by 1944.
also brinksmanship (with unetymological -s-), 1956, a construction based on salesmanship, sportsmanship, etc.; from brink (n.). The image of the brink of war dates to at least 1829 (John Quincy Adams).
In the Cold War it was associated with the policies advocated by John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State 1953-1959. The word springs from Dulles' description of his philosophy in a magazine interview [with Time-Life Washington bureau chief James Shepley] in early 1956:
The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art. If you cannot master it, you inevitably get into war. If you try to run away from it, if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost.
The quote was widely criticized by the Eisenhower Administration's opponents, and the first attested use of brinkmanship seems to have been in such a disparaging context, a few weeks after the magazine interview appeared, by Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson criticizing Dulles for "boasting of his brinkmanship — the art of bringing us to the edge of the nuclear abyss."
measure of length, Old English gerd (Mercian), gierd (West Saxon) "rod, staff, stick; measure of length," from West Germanic *gazdijo, from Proto-Germanic *gazdjo "stick, rod" (source also of Old Saxon gerda, Old Frisian ierde, Dutch gard "rod;" Old High German garta, German gerte "switch, twig," Old Norse gaddr "spike, sting, nail"), from PIE root *ghazdh-o- "rod, staff, pole" (source also of Latin hasta "shaft, staff"). The nautical yard-arm retains the original sense of "stick."
Originally in Anglo-Saxon times a land measure of roughly 5 meters (a length later called rod, pole, or perch). Modern measure of "three feet" is attested from late 14c. (earlier rough equivalent was the ell of 45 inches, and the verge). In Middle English and after, the word also was a euphemism for "penis" (as in "Love's Labour's Lost," V.ii.676). Slang meaning "one hundred dollars" first attested 1926, American English. Middle English yerd (Old English gierd) also was "yard-land, yard of land," a varying measure but often about 30 acres or a quarter of a hide.