early 12c., "act of chasing game," from hunt (v.). Old English had huntung, huntoþ. Meaning "body of persons associated for the purpose of hunting with a pack of hounds" is first recorded 1570s. Meaning "act of searching for someone or something" is from c. 1600.
Old English huntian "chase game" (transitive and intransitive), perhaps developed from hunta "hunter," and related to hentan "to seize," from Proto-Germanic *huntojan (source also of Gothic hinþan "to seize, capture," Old High German hunda "booty"), which is of uncertain origin. Not the usual Germanic word for this, which is represented by Dutch jagen, German jagen (see yacht (n.)). General sense of "search diligently" (for anything) is first recorded c. 1200. Related: Hunted; hunting. To hunt (something) up "search for until found" is from 1791. Parlor game hunt the slipper is attested from 1766.
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