late 13c. (in a biblical context), "strong liquor;" mid-14c., "liquor made from the juice of fruits," from Old French cidre, cire "pear or apple cider" (12c., Modern French cidre), variant of cisdre, from Late Latin sicera, Vulgate rendition of Hebrew shekhar, a word used for any strong drink (translated in Old English as beor, taken untranslated in Septuagint Greek as sikera), related to Arabic sakar "strong drink," sakira "was drunk."
Meaning gradually narrowed in English to mean exclusively "fermented drink made from apples," though this sense also was in Old French. Later applied to any expressed juice of apples, either before or after fermentation (19c.). The former is distinguished as sweet cider, the latter as hard cider.
updated on December 12, 2017