c. 1400, "having power to control fate," from wierd (n.), from Old English wyrd "fate, chance, fortune; destiny; the Fates," literally "that which comes," from Proto-Germanic *wurthiz (source also of Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt "fate," Old Norse urðr "fate, one of the three Norns"), from PIE *wert- "to turn, to wind," (source also of German werden, Old English weorðan "to become"), from root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend." For sense development from "turning" to "becoming," compare phrase turn into "become."
The sense "uncanny, supernatural" developed from Middle English use of weird sisters for the three fates or Norns (in Germanic mythology), the goddesses who controlled human destiny. They were portrayed as odd or frightening in appearance, as in "Macbeth" (and especially in 18th and 19th century productions of it), which led to the adjectival meaning "odd-looking, uncanny" (1815); "odd, strange, disturbingly different" (1820). Related: Weirdly; weirdness.
"an author of history," mid-15c., as if from Medieval Latin *historianus, from Latin historia "narrative of past events; narrative account, report" (see history). Compare Old French ystorïen (adj.). As "writer of history in the higher sense" (distinguished from an annalist or chronicler), from 1530s. An Old English word was þeod-wita, also wyrd-writere "one who writes an account of events, a historian or historiographer" (see weird). The classical Latin word was historicus (adj.) used as a noun. Holinshed has historician.
[T]he historian's fallacy is the error of assuming that a man who has a given historical experience knows it, when he has had it, to be all that a historian would know it to be, with the advantage of historical perspective. [David Hackett Fischer, "Historians' Fallacies," 1970]
late 14c., "one's lot or destiny; predetermined course of life;" also "one's guiding spirit," from Old French fate and directly from Latin fata (source also of Spanish hado, Portuguese fado, Italian fato), neuter plural of fatum "prophetic declaration of what must be, oracle, prediction," thus the Latin word's usual sense, "that which is ordained, destiny, fate," literally "thing spoken (by the gods)," from neuter past participle of fari "to speak," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say." Often in a bad sense in Latin: "bad luck, ill fortune; mishap, ruin; a pest or plague."
From early 15c. as "power that rules destinies, agency which predetermines events; supernatural predetermination;" also "destiny personified." Meaning "that which must be" is from 1660s; sense of "final event" is from 1768. The Latin sense evolution is from "sentence of the Gods" (Greek theosphaton) to "lot, portion" (Greek moira, personified as a goddess in Homer).
The sense of "one of the three goddesses (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos) who determined the course of a human life" is in English by 1580s. Their Greek name was Moirai (see above), from a verb meaning "to receive one's share." Latin Parca "one of the three Fates or goddesses of fate" (source of French parque "a Fate;" Spanish parca "Death personified; the Grim Reaper") might be from parcere "act sparingly, refrain from; have mercy upon, forbear to injure or punish" (probably here a euphemism) or plectere "to weave, plait." The native word in English was wyrd (see weird).
J'y suivais un serpent qui venait de me mordre
Quel repli de désirs, sa traîne!...Quel désordre
De trésors s'arrachant à mon avidité,
Et quelle sombre soif de la limpidité!
[Paul Valéry, from La Jeune Parque]
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."
"hideous, ghastly, weird," c. 1500, of uncertain origin; apparently somehow from elf (compare Scottish variant elphrish), an explanation OED finds "suitable;" Watkins connects its elements with Old English el- "else, otherwise" (from PIE root *al- "beyond") + rice "realm" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," with derivatives meaning "to direct in a straight line," thus "to lead, rule").
"apparition of a living person, specter, a double," 1787, an English dialect word of unknown origin (see OED for discussion).
A peculiarly weird type of apparition is the wraith (q.v.) or double, of which the Irish fetch is a variant. The wraith is an exact facsimile of a living person, who may himself see it. Goethe, Shelley, and other famous men are said to have seen their own wraiths. The fetch makes its appearance shortly before the death of the person it represents, either to himself or his friends, or both. [Lewis Spence, "An Encyclopedia of Occultism," 1920]