late 14c., "conflict, fighting; difficulty, trouble," a contraction of at do, literally "to do," a dialectal formation in the Norse-influenced areas of northern England: some Scandinavian languages used at with the infinitive of a verb where Modern English uses to.
From use of the infinitive in much ado ("much to do") and similar phrases, ado came to be regarded as a noun. Compare the sense evolution in to-do and affair (from French infinitive phrase à faire "to do"). The weakened meaning "fuss" is from early 15c. Also used in Middle English for "dealings, traffic," and "sexual intercourse" (both c. 1400).
updated on September 15, 2022
Dictionary entries near ado