c. 1300 (c. 1200 as a surname), percen, "make a hole in; force one's way through; thrust through with or as with a sharp or pointed instrument," from Anglo-French perser, Old French percier "pierce, transfix, drive through" (12c., Modern French percer), probably from Vulgar Latin *pertusiare, frequentative of Latin pertusus, past participle of pertundere "to thrust or bore through," from per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + tundere "to beat, pound," from PIE *tund-, from root *(s)teu- "to push, strike, knock, beat, thrust" (see obtuse). Related: Pierced; piercing.
river-land between two ranges of hills, early 14c., from Old French val "valley, vale" (12c.), from Latin vallem (nominative vallis, valles) "valley" (see valley). Now "little used except in poetry" [Century Dictionary]. Vale of years "old age" is from "Othello." Vale of tears "this world as a place of trouble" is attested from 1550s. An older phrase in the same sense was dale of dol (mid-15c.).
masc. proper name, from the surname, which is of Norman origin, from a place name, from Old French percer "to pierce, break through" (see pierce). As a given name sometimes also short for Percival (for which see Parzival). The colloquial connotation of weakness or effeminacy in the man's name is attested by 1916.