Old English ærende "message, mission; answer, news, tidings," from Proto-Germanic *airundija- "message, errand" (source also of Old Saxon arundi, Old Norse erendi, Danish ærinde, Swedish ärende, Old Frisian erende, Old High German arunti "message"), which is of uncertain origin. Compare Old English ar "messenger, servant, herald." Originally of important missions; meaning "short, simple journey and task" is attested by 1640s. Related: Errands. In Old English, ærendgast was "angel," ærendraca was "ambassador."