"light, long boat for river navigation," 1711, from Canadian French bateau, from Old French batel, from Germanic *bait- "a boat" (see boat (n.)).
Entries linking to bateau
"small open vessel (smaller than a ship) used to cross waters, propelled by oars, a sail, or (later) an engine," Old English bat, from Proto-Germanic *bait- (source also of Old Norse batr, Dutch boot, German Boot), possibly from PIE root *bheid- "to split," if the notion is of making a boat by hollowing out a tree trunk or from split planking. Or it may be an extension of the name for some part of a ship.
French bateau "boat" is from Old English or Norse. Spanish batel, Italian battello, Medieval Latin batellus likewise probably are from Germanic. Of serving vessels resembling a boat, by 1680s. The image of being in the same boat "subject to similar challenges and difficulties" is by 1580s; to rock the boat "disturb stability" is from 1914.
It forms all or part of: abet; bait (n.) "food used to attract prey;" bait (v.) "to torment, persecute;" bateau; beetle (n.1) "type of insect; bit (n.1) "small piece;" bite; bitter; bitter end; boat; boatswain; -fid; fissile; fission; fissure; giblets; pita; pizza; vent (n.).
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit bhinadmi "I cleave," Latin Latin findere "to split, cleave, separate, divide," Old High German bizzan "to bite," Old English bita "a piece bitten off, morsel," Old Norse beita "to hunt with dogs," beita "pasture, food."