late 14c., from Old French exempt (13c.) and directly from Latin exemptus, past participle of eximere "remove, take out, take away; free, release, deliver, make an exception of," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + emere "buy," originally "take," from PIE root *em- "to take, distribute."
For sense shift from "take" to "buy," compare Old English sellan "to give," source of Modern English sell "to give in exchange for money;" Hebrew laqah "he bought," originally "he took;" and colloquial English I'll take it for "I'll buy it."
c. 1400, "to relieve or exempt," from Anglo-French and Middle French exempter, from exempt (adj.); see exempt (adj.). Related: Exempted; exempting.
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