c. 1200, "to submerge, sink; drown, kill by drowning," from Old English drencan "give drink to, ply with drink, make drunk; soak, saturate; submerge, drown," causative of drincan "to drink" (see drink (v.)), from Proto-Germanic *drankijan (source also of Old Norse drekkja, Swedish dränka, Dutch drenken, German tränken, Gothic dragkjan "to give to drink").
The sense of "to wet thoroughly by throwing liquid over" is by 1550s. For similar causal pairs, compare stink and stench, cling and clench, shrink and Middle English shrench "cause to shrink." Related: Drenched; drenching.
updated on September 05, 2022